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Palace: ‘We are not in the business of cyberattacks’

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MALACAÑANG’S MEDIA security task force on Sunday denied that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration had a hand in the series of cyberattacks against alternative media outfits, including Alipato Media Center Inc. (Bulatlat.com), Altermidya-People’s Alternative Media Network Inc., Kodao Productions Inc., and Pinoy Media Center Inc.

“I’m telling you as a matter of fact, we are not in the business of doing cyberattacks. Should I swear before my dead saints’ graves?” Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director and Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said in a phone message to BusinessWorld.

Alipato Media Center Inc. (Bulatlat), Altermidya-People’s Alternative Media Network Inc., Kodao Productions Inc., and Pinoy Media Center Inc. filed a complaint for damages against IP Converge Data Services, Inc., and Suniway Group of Companies last Friday, March 29, at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. The media groups were assisted by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

In a statement, the NUPL said the two domestic corporations “were identified by experts as the source of the unrelenting cyber attacks against the websites of the plaintiffs. The well-funded and orchestrated attacks, “in the form of Distributed Denial of Service” (DDoS), have been inflicted upon the plaintiffs for months amidst a climate of intensifying state-sponsored media repression.

For her part, Altermidya People’s Media Network National Coordinator Rhea Padilla said the attacks were state-sponsored.

“We believe these attacks are state-sponsored and are part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to stifle press freedom in the country. It seems cyber censorship is one of the administration’s tactics to make way for an open dictatorial rule,” she said in a statement.




Sought for comment, Mr. Egco said: “If their allegations are based on ‘belief,’ then it’s baseless.”

“How I wish they could report on the atrocities against civilians and civilian properties committed by the NPA (New People’s Army). There lies the disconnect,” he added.

Denying the government’s involvement in the attacks, he said: “My mandate is clear: to protect media workers and their families.”

Mr. Egco did not answer when asked if these media outfits were part of the list of organizations identified by the government as communist fronts.

The media groups said their websites have been subjected to “sustained” cyberattacks since December last year.

Ms. Padilla said this kind of attack “denies legitimate readers of access to truthful reports.”

“Launching a cyberattack with this kind of magnitude and immensity is impossible without the knowledge of the companies. At the very least, they should be held responsible for gross inexcusable negligence. The attacks are continuing despite the fact that it has been reported in the media,” she also said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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