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'Stop the assault on press freedom': Alternative media outlets say gov't report confirms Philippine Army is behind cyberattack

By Lora Mae U. Reyes Published Sep 24, 2021 5:14 pm

Alternative media outlets Bulatlat and Altermidya slammed the Philippine Army after a government research reportedly confirmed that the latter was behind the cyberattacks that targeted their websites.

In a joint statement released on Sept. 23, the two media outlets said that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH), which is under the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), reported that the “sources of the cyberattacks originated from an IP [address] assigned to the Philippine Army.”

“CERT-PH validated what we already know from the forensic investigation by our hosting provider, Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation,” the media groups said. “When we published Qurium’s findings in June, the Armed Forces of the Philippines feigned ignorance, and issued a statement claiming that the institution upholds press freedom.”

The Quirium report, about cyberattacks that happened early this year, found out “brief but frequent denial attacks" against Bulatlat, Altermidya, and human rights group Karapatan. 

“We condemn the Philippine Army for carrying out cyber crimes against independent media outfits. We take offense at the duplicity they have shown regarding this incident – publicly professing respect for press freedom but launching vicious digital attacks, and never cooperating with other government agencies,” the media groups said.

“Stop the assault on press freedom.”

Bulatlat and Altermidya also scored the DOST “for covering up for the Philippine Army.”

“DOST should not allow its infrastructure be used to suppress the truth, and should impose penalties for agencies found to commit abuses,” the media groups said.

The DOST has earlier denied their alleged involvement. In an official statement released on Facebook last June 24, they wrote, “The statement that DOST potentially took part in initiating the alleged cyber-attacks is false. This statement was solely based on the tracked IP address and does not translate to the Department’s involvement in the matter.” 

Bulatlat and Altermidya thanked the CERT-PH for the report. The media groups said that they bared the findings of the report, which was labelled as restricted to the parties involved, due to “the people’s right to information.”

The Philippine Army has yet to react on the matter. PhilSTAR L!fe also reached out to the DOST for their side but there is no response as of press time.