US spied on Binay and Roxas last year, says French newspaper Le Monde

Posted at 05/21/2014 3:28 PM

Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas were spied on last year by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), according to the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde. The spying lasted for a month but Le Monde did not say which month.

Le Monde said it contacted both Binay and Roxas for comment but neither responded to the newspaper’s questions. I’d like to thank “Observer”, one of the commenters on this site, for alerting me to Le Monde’s May 8, 2014 piece entitled Révélations sur les écoutes sous-marines de la NSA. The newspaper is among the publications doing an extensive coverage of the leaks from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The article states that the “addresses” of both officials appeared in an NSA list. It is not clear whether the addresses pertained to their e-mail IP (Internet Protocol) addresses or whether these pertained to mobile metadata.

Interestingly, the article describes Binay as a “cacique“. In French, it means a very important person. In Spanish, it means a local political boss. In the Philippines, it means a rich oppressive hacendero.

As for Roxas, Le Monde made this observation: “As a senator he distinguished himself by his militant attitude against the signing of government procurement contracts with Chinese partners, especially in telecommunications.”

Le Monde writers Jacques Follorou and Martin Untersinger wondered why the two politicians had been targeted for spying. Their piece pointed out: “Nothing in the careers of these two men, who have not responded to questions from Le Monde, seems to threaten Washington. On the contrary, they seem to defend institutions built on a model that is very close to that of their former colonizer.”

Le Monde was perhaps not aware that both Binay and Roxas share a common ambition – to become president in 2016.

It is understandable that the US, which was then negotiating a long-term agreement on troops and equipment, would be curious to know more about the two presidential contenders. But to go to the extent of secretly monitoring them is not what one expects from a treaty ally.

That is also what German Prime Minister Angela Merkel thought when she found out that she was being spied upon, on orders of the US President Barack Obama.

Besides, all along the US has told the world that such spying is in aid of America’s war against terrorism.