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Telco says it’s incapable of tracking content of PNoy-Purisima text messages

Smart Communications has claimed it was incapable of tracking the contents of the exchange of text messages between President Benigno Aquino III and resigned Police chief Director General Alan Purisima over the Mamasapano anti-terror mission, Senator Grace Poe said Friday

In its reply to a Senate subpoena last week, the telecommunications company also told the Senate panel that it could only release the time log of the controversial text messages. Still, it added that a court order or written consent from the subscriber would be needed before it could do so.

“Smart Telecom has formally replied to the committee that its system is not capable of tracking the contents of SMS but only the log of the time and numbers and that it would require either a court order or written consent from the subscriber for it to comply,” Poe said in a text message to GMA News Online on Friday.

Poe is the chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, one of three Senate panels investigating the Mamasapano clash on Jan. 25 that left 44 police commandos and 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front dead.

“The committee is still weighing its options on the matter given time consideration and the relevant legislative recommendations in the committee report," Poe said as regards the latest impasse.

Advice from lawyers

Smart Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto confirmed in a text message to GMA News Online that the telecommunications company sent such reply to the Senate.
Asked to confirm information from their response that the system doesn't keep the contents of the SMS, Isberto replied again, "Yes. That's right."
He added they are "seeking the advice of our external counsels on this matter" at this time.
Meanwhile, an official from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it cannot comment on the matter, as it is "between the Senate and the telco."

Last week, the Senate issued a subpoena to compel Smart Communications president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno to release a full transcript of the text messages between Aquino and Purisima on January 25, especially from 5 a.m. to 7 pm.

Oplan Exodus

On that day, the Oplan Exodus, the operation to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb-maker Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, was conducted.

Forty-four Police Special Action Force commandos were killed in hours of gunfight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Purisima had submitted to the Senate a supposed copy of the text message exchange, but Senator Loren Legarda still requested for a full transcript for verification purposes.

There was an apparent confusion between Purisima and Aquino, as the resigned PNP chief disclosed before the committee that the President asked him to "Review your earlier and latest texts. They differ as to which engaged first." — Aica Dioquino/LBG/NB, GMA News