Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday backed the proposal by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for a longer period to wiretap individuals considered a threat to national security.
“Terrorism is a serious threat to national security and public safety, so if our security experts recommend that a longer period for permissible wiretapping is necessary, I will support it,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
Guevarra was commenting on Lorenzana’s proposal to extend the period for wiretapping from 30 to 90 days, with a one-time extension of 30 days
In particular, Lorenzana seeks an amendment to Republic Act 9372, or the Human Security Act, that will allow wiretapping for as long as 90 days.
The anti-terror law allows wiretapping, with the consent of the Court of Appeals, only for terror suspects and expressly prohibits it in the case of lawyer-client communication between doctor and patient, and between journalists and their sources.
Guevarra also rejected a proposal by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año for the creation of special courts to handle terrorism-related cases, adding regular trial courts can handle it.
“As to the creation of a special court to handle terrorism cases, I believe that our regular trial courts, some of which have been designated to specially handle heinous crimes, are capable of trying terrorism cases wherever they may be filed,” Guevarra said.
Earlier, Guevarra also contradicted Año’s call for the restoration of the Anti-Subversion Law, saying that mere membership in the communist party or even other Leftist groups is not a crime.
“Being leftist is far from being a terrorist. As long as activism remains in the realm of ideology, there is nothing to be alarmed about. But once it flows into overt acts that threaten the national security or at least cause widespread fear among the people, the government has to step in and step in really hard,” he said.
Guevarra said instead of restoring the Anti-Subversion Law or RA 1700, the focus should be more on amending and giving more teeth to RA 9372.