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Philippine phone company discovers alleged wiretap near former President Aquino's home

Philippine phone company discovers alleged wiretap near former President Aquino's home

Repairmen working near the home of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino found a tape recorder and alleged wiretapping device on her line in a telephone switching box, Philippine officials said Thursday.
Aquino, 74, a political icon who restored democracy in the Philippines after leading a 1986 "people power" revolt with mass protests, said she had suspected her phone was bugged "ever since the martial law" period in the 1970s.
"I've been through the worst times before," she told reporters. "All of us in the opposition then were almost sure our phones were bugged. Even when I was president, there was some wiretapping also."
She did not say who she thought might be wiretapping her phone.
Quezon City police chief Senior Superintendent Magtanggol Gatdula said police were investigating and plan to question the phone repairmen.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. confirmed in a statement its maintenance crew recovered "an instrument which appeared to be a tape recorder attached to a black box" in the cross-connect cabinet near Aquino's home.
"Upon further investigation, the PLDT crew discovered that the black box to which the ... tape recorder was attached was connected to the telephone line installed at the residence of ex-President Corazon Aquino," it said.
The company said it was conducting its own investigation.
The military denied involvement.
"One thing is definite: There is no such effort by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to bug the former president," spokesman Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro told reporters.
"This could be the handiwork of some groups with interests that only they know of," he said.
Aquino was swept to power in 1986, after a peaceful protest against late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She led the country until 1992.
She recently had a falling out with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, joining opposition figures in calling for Arroyo's resignation over allegations of vote-rigging in the 2004 elections.
In the last three months, Aquino has been campaigning for her son, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is running for senator in an opposition coalition.
Allegations of wiretapping have been an explosive issue since the disputed 2004 polls, when the opposition alleged Arroyo conspired to rig the vote.
The allegations are based on wiretapped phone calls allegedly between an election official and Arroyo, in which they purportedly spoke of ensuring a million-vote victory margin for her.
Arroyo has apologized for talking to an election official, but it never became clear who wiretapped the president. She has denied any wrongdoing, and has survived two impeachment attempts in the House of Representatives, where her allies are in majority.
The Black and White Movement, an opposition group calling for Arroyo's resignation, said it was "shocked and dismayed to learn of the wiretapping of Cory Aquino."
"If she can be tapped, we are all in danger," the group said, adding that those responsible for the alleged 2004 election wiretaps were never brought to justice.


Updated : 2021-01-19 20:56 GMT+08:00