Surveillance, abductions: Bayan bucks emerging police state in Philippines

May. 04, 2007

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) was not the least surprised that the phone of former president Corazon Aquino was bugged.

We are not surprised. Killings, abductions, surveillance; these are clear signs that we are now living in a police state. All our movements are being watched by a paranoid and unstable government. Just imagine how things will be when the anti-terror law is implemented in July, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Bayan is inclined to believe that state forces are behind the bugging of Aquinos phone. Not many have the capacity and the gall to bug a former president, Reyes said.

Bayan joined the indignation rally against the abduction of Jonas Joseph Burgos, an activist based in Bulacan. The militant group believes state forces are behind the abduction.

Reyes said that various forms of surveillance are now being directed against opponents of the Arroyo administration. This government employs human surveillance as well as electronic surveillance on people actively campaigning against Arroyo. No one is spared. The Left, the Opposition, even the media are all targets of surveillance by state security forces.

People are scandalized that Cory was bugged but this is just normal for activists who endure electronic surveillance of their emails, computers and cell phones. Intelligence agents are routinely deployed to monitor activities of Leftists groups, Reyes said.

They monitor cell phone calls, hack into our Wi-fi internet and can practically keep tabs on a person 24-7, Reyes said.

This government is paranoid. It feels the need to monitor its political enemies. The question on our minds is what will the government do with the information it acquires from the surveillance? What will happen to people being monitored? Reyes asked.

Activist groups have asserted that surveillance usually leads to physical attacks on them. This includes cases of abductions and extrajudicial killings.

Bayan said that respect for human rights, even the right to privacy, ranks very low in the priorities of the Arroyo administration.

If the government abuses its power to place people under surveillance, we can expect the same abuse once the anti-terrorism law is implemented. It will be open season for bugging devices and hi-tech spies, Reyes warned.

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