Palace calls wiretapped intel ‘educated guess’

President spokesman Salvador Panelo ( photo)

President spokesman Salvador Panelo responded to criticism surrounding his comment about alleged wiretapped intelligence reports from foreign governments, by saying that it was a mere “educated guess.”

The spokesperson and chief legal counsel said that his claim was “an educated guess on what is happening in the world today. Countries whose survival depends on measures that they will undertake to preserve their territory or sovereignty will have to use that.”

He further noted that it was a misunderstanding as he emphasized that the Philippine government was adamant in revealing the list of politicians involved in the illegal drug trade in the legal and constitutional manner.

“Apparently, the discussion we had in the wiretapping created a firestorm. There was a misunderstanding. First, it’s the policy of the government to comply with the law. Wiretapping is illegal in this country, so that’s it,” Panelo said during a press briefing on Friday, March 8.

He added, “My elucidation was more on a general term because there are many sources, one of them is surveillance; information coming from those who surrendered, and the arrested persons; including the use of high technology – that is where these supposed wiretapping activities come in.”

Media groups: Exercise prudence in reporting narco-list

Media groups issued a joint statement cautioning all media practitioners to exercise “utter prudence and fastidious judgment” in reporting the list of narco-politicians should it be released to the public by next week.

“Instead of rushing to print or air, we now urge all our colleagues to exercise utter prudence and fastidious judgment in evaluating this ‘story. To be sure, the story offers just a list of names, but not the full, substantive details of why or how those on the list had been tagged or plugged as so-called ‘narco politicians,’” the statement read.

They urged all members to practice diligence in verification and fact-checking in order to relay the truth to the public without the influence of authorities such as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Verify, verify, verify. And do so independently. That is the first thing that the news media can and should do, before running a list that tags and links people to hateful crimes, on the mere say-so of the President and his political lieutenants,” they said.

The statement was signed by members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Mindanews, Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD) and Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network.

“Rather than seek publicity for its unverified narco list story, the Duterte administration should waste no time to build cases, file charges, prosecute, and send to jail the guilty if indeed it had proof and evidence on hand,” the media groups stated.

“Such naming and shaming call attention to the possible invasion of privacy, as well as denial of due process and the presumption of innocence, for those on the list,” it added.  

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