Vice President Jejomar Binay shrugged off reports that the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) spied on him last year.
During an interview on the sidelines of the closing ceremonies of the Boy Scouts Annual National Council Meeting in Bacolod City, the Vice President said he was used to being tracked because of his human rights advocacy during the Martial Law years.
“Even if it’s true, at the time we were staging rallies, I was a human rights lawyer, I was part of the activists at that time. We were always followed by a spy. Even now that I’m in the government, it’s okay,” Binay said.
The Vice President did not want to speculate why the NSA spied on him last year.
On May 9, French newspaper Le Monde decrypted a page from an internal file unveiled by NSA whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.
It claimed that Binay and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas were victims of communication interception for one month through underwater cables.
The NSA program, Upstream, was used to carry and collect important data from the conversations carried out by Binay and Roxas for one month, the newspaper said.
And although Le Monde said both officials were not known for anti-US sentiments, the espionage indicated that Binay and Roxas were key figures in the Philippine political arena.
The Upstream program was also used to collect information from conversations in a resort in the Caribbean, an institute of physics in Italy, e-mails of the Saudi Telecom staff, a computer company in Pakistan and a telecom company’s subsidiary in Libya.
Binay has been vocal about his aspirations to run for president in the 2016 national elections while Roxas, although mum about the issue, is widely believed to be the standard-bearer of the ruling Libe-ral Party.