On cyberattacks vs alternative media groups

Photo from Shutterstock

Photo from Shutterstock

With no less than the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology confirming that the recent cyberattacks against Bulatlat and Altermidya – People’s Alternative Media Network have stemmed from the computer network of the Philippine Army, Karapatan demands immediate action from authorities to ensure accountability and non-repetition of these underhanded attacks by State forces to undermine press freedom in the Philippines.

We call on the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, and Department of Justice — agencies mandated to investigation, handle, review and monitor these cases under the Anti-Cybercrime Law — to do their work. Anything less, or any delay in discharge of their functions, in relation to these cases may be seen as tantamount to tolerating and abetting these violations.

We call on the House of Representatives and the Senate to scrutinize public funds used in these cyberattacks especially during the deliberations for the national budget in 2022. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is already caught red-handed on its claims that its personnel were merely “surfing” on these sites — though data gathered by Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation would indicate these activities are vastly different from normal surfing or browsing activity. Any proposed funding for such sinister activities should not be provided to the AFP or to any government agency or body to ensure that these cyberattacks using public funds will not happen again.

Aside from being direct attacks on press freedom, these forms of cyberattacks violate the people’s right to information and our expressions of lived realities, critical thought and analysis — rights that should be increasingly safeguarded as the national and local elections for 2022 near. Alternative media outfits like Bulatlat and Altermidya provide invaluable contributions towards the exercise of these rights through their stories that provide space for expressions of poor Filipinos’ plight, aspirations and struggles. We cannot sit idly by while authorities continue to undermine whatever democratic space is left in the Philippines. We call for accountability now!

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General