“Why is the president putting much more store into this foreign intelligence body than that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which denied there was such an Oust Duterte plot?”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Among the cascade of violations of the law that President Rodrigo Duterte may have committed over the last few weeks, the manner with which he got hold of the white paper on alleged Oust Duterte plotters represents a big example. During a press conference in Quezon City today by the National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL), the lawyers’ group Duterte has vilified on a Manila Times headline story and on subsequent press briefing in Malacañang, the lawyers warned that the President is committing treason, among others.
At the press briefing in Malacañang the day before, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told the media to believe the matrix document just because it came from the president. The matrix, according to President Duterte himself, was provided to him by a foreign intelligence body. The matrix illustrates the supposed flow of Oust Duterte information from the NUPL to journalists.
“Panelo made a worse statement a spokesperson could have made,” said Bayan Muna and NUPL chairperson Neri Colmenares.
But who is this “foreign intelligence body” that’s apparently conducting some surveillance on lawyers and journalists? Why is the president putting much more store into this foreign intelligence body than that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which denied there was such an Oust Duterte plot?
If President Duterte was indeed listening to and basing his actions on reports of this unidentified foreign intelligence body, then he is committing many violations, Colmenares said. At most, he explained, Duterte is acting treasonous in relying on reports that came from a foreign surveillance body especially if in following this, Duterte will end up suppressing dissenters.
In having conducted a surveillance, this foreign intelligence body may have violated Repubic Act No. 4200 or Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Data Privacy Act or Republic Act 10173 and other civil code provisions, Colmenares said.
He mentioned that there is also a requirement to register foreign agents operating in the Philippines.
Colmenares said President Duterte, “at the very least, was very gullible” to put that much store in a foreign intelligence report. Presidential Spokesperson Panelo had tried to assuage doubts about the matrix saying the foreign intelligence report has been “vetted”, but Colmenares said, that’s the same thing they said about the questionable China loan agreement in Kaliwa Dam and Chico River project.
According to Colmenares and the other officers of NUPL, their work serving the marginalized and oppressed sectors – farmers, workers, fisherfolk, urban poor, women, youth – “has no bearing on the popularity or not of the president.”
He warned also about the possible hidden agenda of this “foreign intelligence body.” The lawyers in NUPL have also been party to cases questioning both Chinese and US military encroachments into the Philippine territory. The US has official and unofficial military bases and installations in the country, and they have been known and heard to be supplying intelligence data to the Philippine government; the Chinese, meanwhile, are expanding military installations by occupying and reclaiming parts of the West Philippine Sea. Aside from the two, the Philippines has a military agreement with Australia. Duterte has yet to identify the foreign source of his intelligence report.