Senator Bato Dela Rosa said law enforcement officials strictly follow tactical and strategic procedures in handling classified data concerning anti-crime operations to ensure that criminals will be charged and subsequently be placed behind bars.
Dela Rosa said that based on his experience as a law enforcer, there is a need to meticulously follow tactical handling of very important information that are considered “top secret” information.
The legislator added that only those officials that are involved in the actual operations should be informed about the top secret information on a “need to know” basis.
“Since that document is highly-classified, it may be classified as top secret I suppose because ang laman niyan ay enemies of the state, so security of the state ang at stake dyan. So it is on a need to know basis,” the lawmaker said.
“May tactical at strategic considerations yan hindi yung puro emotional, puro psychological considerations lang. Puro political considerations, hindi naman ganun. Merong considerations purely tactical and strategic,” the senator added.
“The President has the authority to declassify such kind of information.”
The chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs also explained that only the Chief Executive has the authority to declassify such kind of information.
“Ang pag declassify ng mga dokumento na top secret is up to the President, yung pinaka highest authority ng ating bansa ang pwedeng bigay ng order na pwedeng mag-declassify,” he noted.
“As I have said, nasa power ng Pangulo ang pag declassify niyan, so nasa kanya yan kung pagkatiwalaan ka niya at sigurado siya sayo na hindi mag-leak ang information, then maybe pwede niyang i-share sayo. Pero kung di siya (President) sigurado then he has all the reasons na huwag muna,” Dela Rosa added.
Dela Rosa made it clear that there is no political issue on the administration’s decision not to share the top secret information containing high-value targets of the administration’s war on illegal drugs with Vice President Leni Robredo who was recently appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“It is not because the Vice President belongs to the opposition party, it is not because matagal na siyang critic sa administration na ito, particular sa war on drugs, but it is so directed na kapag ang classified documents na yan, lalong lalo na top secret ay talagang hindi basta-basta yan nag che-change hand kasi granting, with all due respect kay Vice President, sabihin ng Pangulo, since you are the number 2 highest official in this land I have complete trust and confidence in you, so granting ganun ang sabihin ng Pangulo, but still meron pa ring agam-agam na pagdating kay Pangulo na hindi natin sigurado at hindi natin kakilala yung mga taong nakapalibot sa kanya (VP). Pwedeng mag-leak yan,” Dela Rosa stressed.
“Kahit na wittingly or unwittingly meron makapag-screenshot dyan or makapag picture dyan sa dokumento na yan, napakadali ang leakage sa mga dokumento na yan so yan ang reason sa classification ng top secret,” Dela Rosa further noted.
When asked if other officials of the government are aware of the contents of the top secret documents like the list of high value targets regarding illegal drugs, he said that they are not privy to the details of the list.
“Hindi yan alam nila, pag yan ay may tatak na top secret / top level echelon lang ng gobyerno ang nakaaalam niyan. Kung sino ang directly involved diyan like yung Chief lang ng PNP, Chief ng PDEA o maybe yung secretary ng DILG. Basta need to know basis. Kahit na ikaw ay kapitan lamang at you need to know these information dahil ikaw ang mag-operate ng mga target na iyan, by all means malalaman mo yan dahil [otherwise] hindi mo alam kung sino ang target mo,” Dela Rosa said.
“In the case of Vice President Robredo, she is not directly involved in the operations, so I don’t think that it is very necessary.”
“In the case naman of Vice President Robredo, she is not directly involved in the operations, policy-making functions lang yung sa kanya so I don’t think that it is very necessary,” he added.
“Kahit na yung Chief Justice, hindi alam yan. Kahit na yung Speaker of the House, hindi din alam yan. Baka ang nakaaalam diyan yung si Presidente lang at saka ang Chief PNP at yung Director General ng PDEA. Kahit siguro yung Chief ng ISAFP, yung intelligence service ng AFP, kung alam ba niya yan baka hindi rin siguro dahil need to know basis nga,” Dela Rosa further explained.
The reason for this, he said, is to ensure that the qualified details will not be compromised and leaked to personalities that are not involved in the operations, which may adversely affect said operations of authorities.