Philippines Department of National Defense confirms purchase of ₱135-million spy gadgets Submitted by Defense | 13 / Apr / 2014
Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday confirmed the acquisition of a radio frequency test equipment (RFTE) but denied that it would be used to spy on the critics of the administration.
Arsenio Andolong, acting chief of the DND Public Affairs Service, said the contract for the project was signed last Feb. 4 while the equipment is due for delivery this August.
Andolong said all purchases of the agency are in line with its mandate to safeguard the nation and its people.
“The RFTE has been identified as a capability requirement of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and is intended to boost the latter’s capacity to combat terrorism and protect the Filipino nation and its people,” he said.
The project, Andolong added, is in line with the Human Security Act of 2007, which seeks to protect the state and the people from terrorism.
“The RFTE is intended for counterterrorism and monitoring the activities of those who intend to wreak havoc and sow terror in our communities,” the defense official said.
Previous reports said the surveillance gadget was worth ₱135-million and was acquired from German firm Rohde & Schwarz. The package reportedly included portable analyzers and handheld monitoring receivers.
There have been concerns that the equipment would be used by the government to monitor e-mails, social networking sites and mobile phones.
On Wednesday, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general Toby Tiangco said they have received information that the spy equipment was acquired silently in 2012.
“At first it seemed like part of the AFP’s intelligence upgrading, but what bothered us is that will be used to spy on civilians particularly critics of the administration,” Tiangco said in a statement.
Tiangco described the alleged spying as “a disturbing development that sends a chilling message” to the opposition and to citizens who merely exercise their democratic rights.
“We can only assume that the purpose of spying and monitoring the opposition is practically political. Someone in Malacañang would want to engage in political espionage to gain some advantage,” he said.
The DND, however, maintained that the acquisition of the equipment was meant to safeguard the Filipinos and not to violate their privacy.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is a professional organization, and would in no way use its resources for any political purpose,” Andolong said. - philSTAR