PH-US pact ‘an invitation for surveillance, unregulated communications, drones?

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A left-leaning IT organization has lambasted the new military agreement signed by the Philippines and the United States, saying the deal will violate the privacy rights of Filipinos and the country?s sovereignty.

Photo credit:  www.nrc.nl
Photo credit: www.nrc.nl

In a statement, Gladys Regalado, deputy national coordinator of the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU), said the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is ?an invitation for surveillance, drones and establishment of new listening posts.?

Regalado said CPU is opposing the pact ?as this accommodates personnel, communications and pre-positioning of equipment and actual deployment of forces and materiel in agreed locations ?without rental or similar costs? while the Philippines acts as a bodyguard when US troops conducts these activities.?

She said that under the EDCA, US forces and contractors are given unimpeded access to ?agreed locations? where they can exclusively use pre-positioned equipment, supplies, and material.

?Without clear monitoring, US forces can easily bring surveillance equipment and drones which are among their basic war equipment,? Regalado said.

?Surveillance of our own people in our own backyard by a foreign country is a blatant disregard of our sovereignty and rights to privacy. [Worse], this is allowed and granted by our own government,? she added.

CPU also criticized a provision of the EDCA where the US is given free ?use of radio spectrum? even as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) considers radio frequencies as a ?limited national resource.?

?Even our own mobile phones are registered with the NTC as shown by stickers attached to every device,? noted Regalado.

?However, US troops are exempted from these restrictions and are even allowed to use the whole spectrum which is not even granted to Filipinos. The radio spectrum facilitates almost all modern communication. It is also the main channel for surveillance activities.?

The group also warned that ?allowing US troops to preposition ? surveillance equipment and drones with free access to the radio spectrum is the best recipe for mass surveillance.?

CPU also pointed out National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden had previously revealed that the US established a ?listening post? in Manila. The EDCA, it said, will allow replication of similar ?listening posts? in any agreed locations.

?The Philippines will now be a base for mass surveillance not only on our people but to the whole Asia-Pacific,? ended Regalado.

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