By Jose Cielito Reganit
MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Monday called for an immediate congressional briefing from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on the recent cyberattacks on several Philippine government websites purportedly from Chinese hackers, saying this is an issue of national security.
“The revelation that hackers, suspected to be operating from China, have infiltrated the email systems and internal websites of various government agencies, is a matter of national security and public interest,” Romualdez said in a press statement.
On Saturday, DICT Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian Dy reported that cybersecurity experts have foiled the recent cyberattack that targeted various government email addresses, including that of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the private website of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr..
Dy said other government domains targeted by the alleged China-based cybercriminals were those of the Cabinet Secretary, the Department of Justice, the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the Congress, the National Coast Watch System, and the DICT.
Romualdez said the Philippines should not allow these cyberattacks on government websites go unchecked, and the government must ensure that the national cybersecurity strategies are robust enough to withstand such attacks and agile enough to adapt to the evolving digital landscape.
“The fact that these breaches have targeted critical domains, in addition to the private domain of President Marcos, signifies a dire need for an immediate and comprehensive response,” he said.
“In light of these alarming developments, I am calling on the DICT and other concerned agencies to conduct a thorough briefing for the House of Representatives. This briefing should focus on the nature and extent of these cyber-attacks, the current measures in place to prevent future incidents, and strategies for enhancing our cybersecurity infrastructure,” he said.
Romualdez proposed that the briefing be conducted in an “open hearing,” by the House Committees on Public Information, and on Information and Communications Technology chaired by Reps. Joboy Aquino and Toby Tiangco, respectively.
“Transparency in this matter is crucial as it affects not just the integrity of our government’s digital infrastructure but also the safety and privacy of our citizens,” he said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) assured that it is monitoring hacking attempts on government websites and implementing measures to deter these activities.
In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) director Maj. Gen. Sidney Hernia said they are closely working with lawmakers and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to strengthen the country’s legal frameworks against cybercrimes, including hacking.
Hernia said they are also working with the private sector to upgrade police officers’ cybercrime deterrence capabilities.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and the Congress have been supportive of their proposals to allot more funds for heightened cybersecurity measures.
These include increased training for personnel and the acquisition of modern equipment to detect and curb and these illegal activities.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa ating Pangulo (We are grateful to our President) and he knows very well the pressing need for this and he is also giving us yung support and our legislators nagpapasalamat din ako binigyan tayo ng (I’m also thankful for giving us) fund to really support our programs, projects and activities related to this,” Acorda said. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)