THE PHILIPPINE government’s main website was hacked on Wednesday supposedly by a group claiming to protest the country’s worsening human rights situation under President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
In a statement, CyberPH for Human Rights claimed responsibility for the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on gov.ph, which remained inaccessible as of Thursday evening.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which confirmed the cyber-attack, said the attack was made “for bragging purposes” or “plain and simple activism.”
The hackers claimed to have stolen some data “but it is yet to be proven,” NBI Cyber-crime Division chief Victor V. Lorenzo told a televised news briefing on Thursday.
The hackers identified themselves as a group of “ordinary Filipinos united to defend human rights in the Philippines through cyber-space.” They said they launched the “political cyber-attack” to send a message to Mr. Duterte and his government to stop the killing of civilians.
The group said Mr. Duterte must be held accountable for the deaths of nine activists in separate operations in the provinces of Rizal, Batangas and Laguna on Mar. 7, which came after the country’s top leader ordered soldiers to “kill” Maoist rebels and “ignore human rights.”
The hackers said they would launch another round of “sustained DDoS attacks on government websites that had been complicit in perpetuating barefaced lies on the killing of unarmed civilians and the worsening of the nation’s human rights situation.”
The palace pledged to hold accountable any law enforcers found to have killed the activists.
“Impunity has no place in the Duterte administration,” presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at the same briefing. “Whoever violated the law will be held accountable and will be punished under our laws.”
Mr. Roque also appealed to the European Union delegation in the Philippines to give the government a chance “to discharge its obligation to investigate, punish and prosecute those who may have breached our domestic laws.”
He earlier said the President did not bring up the incident during his meeting with Cabinet officials two days after the raids.
Also on Thursday, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said military troops in a way were already enforcing the President’s shoot-to-kill order against communist rebels engaged in the armed battle.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. earlier said defeating the rebels should be the main concern of the government rather than upholding human rights.
“We have seen no government, after the Marcos dictatorship, such as this one urging openly and repetitively the military and the police to ‘Kill, kill, kill,’” Jose Colin M. Bagaforo, a Catholic Church activist, said in a statement on Thursday.
“What is more dangerous to my mind is the fact that seemingly, we have grown to be accustomed to tolerating this blatant disregard of the rule of law, by disrespecting the integrity of public office,” the Catholic bishop added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza