A screenshot of the webpage of the House of Representatives, which was hacked on Oct. 15, 2023. — PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

CONGRESS should give the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) P3 billion more amid recurring attacks on government websites, a congressman said on Wednesday.

“We must bolster the CICC with all the necessary cutting-edge technologies to swiftly produce actionable intelligence against all types of threat actors — from thrill seekers and hacktivists to cyber-criminals and cyber-terrorists,” Makati Rep. Luis Jose Angel N. Campos, Jr. said in a statement.

Mr. Campos cited the need to strengthen CICC, whose proposed budget for next year was cut by 7.74% to P320.84 million, by creating a data fusion hub and round-the-clock security operation center to prevent, detect and respond to cyberthreats.

“We must also improve the center’s digital forensics and electronic evidence management systems,” said Mr. Campos, who is vice chairman of the House of Representatives committee on appropriations.

CICC is an inter-agency body responsible for all functions relating to government cybersecurity. It was created by the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and is attached to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The center also integrates the anti-cybercrime units of DICT, the Justice department, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police.

Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano earlier said DICT would need confidential funds to fight cyberattacks such as buying information and rewarding people who give leads on hackers.

Cybersecurity company Kaspersky in March said the Philippines ranked second among countries with the most cyberattacks worldwide in 2022.

Information and Communications Secretary Ivan John E. Uy has said the country only had about 200 certified cyber-security experts last year.

The House of Representatives, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Department of Science and Technology, Philippine National Police and Philippine Statistics Authority were targeted by hackers in the past month.

Meanwhile, former Election and Audit Commissioner Maria Rowena V. Guanzon and ex-Finance Undersecretary Cielo D. Magno have started an online campaign against the government’s confidential funds.

“There is a growing movement called ‘Wag Kang KuCorrupt… to protest confidential funds and put an end to corruption,” Ms. Guanzon told One News PH. 

The group’s Facebook page had more than 300 followers.

Ms. Guanzon said the Facebook page would be used to teach people how to get and understand data about corruption.

“You have the right to know what the government is doing, especially about how they spend our money,” she said in Filipino. “You have the right to protest when you know the system is being abused.”

She added that while a House of Representatives decision to strip Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio of P650 million in confidential and secret funds for next year might have been politically motivated, confidential funds must be scrapped for the right reasons.

Civilian agencies should be barred from getting confidential funds and there should be rules on how these are spent, Ms. Guanzon said. — Beatriz Marie D Cruz and Jomel R. Paguian