Dazzle us. (or not): Electronic Surveillance of kidnappers, admissible if only they did the “paperwork”. The Sulu Kidnapping.

Photo by Stocktrek Images. Polllution off France. Used here for  educational, non-commercial purposes, thru free service by blog-use of image provided by and from www.allposters.com .

          Wiretaps and electronic surveillance of kidnappers, allowed for KFR by court order; satellite images, GPS location, the color of the T-shirt of the mastermind as he/ she was conversing with the gunmen — this was the one time to dazzle us if only you did the paperwork.

       It’s not really paperwork, but it represents a recognition of which government bodies exercise certain powers as provided by the Constitution; since the Constitution is not just a piece of paper but an expression of the sovereign will… i’m repeating a class lecture  last Wednesday, do you know why corridors are wide in U.P.? when you dismiss your class there’s a stampede for the door and a gallop of students on the corridor dashing for the stairs you could feel the entire floor shake from the stomp of students.

     But that’s what it is, it’s not really paperwork, we just call it that,  because it involves  sitting down and typing, but at the heart of it  is —– the  law-enforcer is authorized by the State to be armed and, by a court order and on certain crimes, to intercept conversations as long he/she recognizes the processes;  and it’s supposed to be a government of laws….that’s my lecture again, there’s going to be a stampede for the door.

      But if the police keeps ignoring  it  and dismissing it as paperwork, all the  information-gathering on kidnappers,  sleuthing and  surveillance of kidnappers, searches, arrests, would be put to naught.  This was a  “good time”, well, it wasn’t a good time, but this was the time when the police needed to have the evidence they  gathered admissible because they were operating in a territory where  armed groups have a powerful backing.

      Wiretaps and electronic surveillance of kidnappers.  For kidnapping, it’s allowed  by a court order.  All that needed to be done here was go to a judge in Jolo. If you have  good intelligence work  in the province, you know which judge to go to, the proceeding is ex parte to ensure confidentiality. The legal provisions, which sets forth the procedure, is at the tailend of this blog post. While you’re setting up your  equipment,  talking to the phone companies (hahaha),  getting the  coordinates,  your local police accompanied by your pointman or his assistant (we always have to accompany our local counterparts,  don’t we), could go to the Jolo judge for the court order. That would make all your evidence for the kidnapping (it’s allowed for kidnapping) admissible in court.



     Then you can dazzle us.  During the court hearing. Or even during the preliminary investigation. You can present the tapes and the digital sounds as evidence for conversations between the kidnappers and their mastermind. Unrebuttable  evidence. The only way to rebut this kind of evidence is by its authenticity, which is easily resolved by showing the terms of the court order and presenting the technician who set up the equipment.  Even the GPS tracking, the photographs, the satellite images, this was the one time it was easy to make it admissible because, with the required “paperwork”, it was an exception to the anti-wiretapping law. You can show us the GPS  location of the mastermind when he/she was conversing with the gunmen, the colors of the roof of his/her house, the flowers in his/her yard.  Impressive….sana. This was the one time.  This was the perfect time to show what you’ve got (well, it was never a perfect time or a good time, but you know what i mean), the kidnappers were using one identified almost public  (a journalist’s) ,  cellphone , this was real easy to do, and i’m sure it was done, but it was even easier to make the evidence admissible. All you had to do was type the cellphone number of Ces Oreña-Drilon, and her name as owner of the phone, and the clerk of court will copy it in the court order. This was easy to do.

     You know what, even the drones, for  KFR (kidnapping for ransom). If those U.S. military aircraft have been officially lent to the Philippine government and operated by Filipinos and the necessary MOA’s and treaties were accomplished (they’re not drills, they’re combat operations, they’re not covered by existing agreements), even the evidence gathered by those equipment can be made admissible. It’s not just paperwork,  it’s a recognition of the sovereignty of our country.   

      Here are some provisions for the wiretaps:

     Quote “Republic Act 4200. Anti-Wiretapping Law.Sec. 3. Nothing contained in this Act, however, shall render it unlawful or punishable for any peace officer, who is authorized by a written order of the Court, to execute any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the two preceding Sec.s in cases involving the crimes of   XXXXX   kidnapping as defined by the Revised Penal Code, and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616, punishing espionage and other offenses against national security: Provided, That such written order shall only be issued or granted upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce and a showing: (1) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of the crimes enumerated hereinabove has been committed or is being committed or is about to be committed:  XXXXX  (2) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence will be obtained essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution of, or to the prevention of, any such crimes; and (3) that there are no other means readily available for obtaining such evidence.

     Quote “The order granted or issued shall specify: (1) the identity of the person or persons whose communications, conversations, discussions, or spoken words are to be overheard, intercepted, or recorded and, in the case of telegraphic or telephonic communications, the telegraph line or the telephone number involved and its location; (2) the identity of the peace officer authorized to overhear, intercept, or record the communications, conversations, discussions, or spoken words; (3) the offense or offenses committed or sought to be prevented; and (4) the period of the authorization. The authorization shall be effective for the period specified in the order which shall not exceed sixty (60) days from the date of issuance of the order, unless extended or renewed by the court upon being satisfied that such extension or renewal is in the public interest.

      Quote “All recordings made under court authorization shall, within forty-eight hours after the expiration of the period fixed in the order, be deposited with the court in a sealed envelope or sealed package, and shall be accompanied by an affidavit of the peace officer granted such authority stating the number of recordings made, the dates and times covered by each recording, the number of tapes, discs, or records included in the deposit, and certifying that no duplicates or copies of the whole or any part thereof have been made, or if made, that all such duplicates or copies are included in the envelope or package deposited with the court. The envelope or package so deposited shall not be opened, or the recordings replayed, or used in evidence, or their contents revealed, except upon order of the court, which shall not be granted except upon motion, with due notice and opportunity to be heard to the person or persons whose conversation or communications have been recorded. XXXXX “ closed-quote.