MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has called on two House of Representatives committees to investigate the recent attempts to hack several government websites, which the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) traced back to hackers from China.
In a statement on Monday, Romualdez said he is deeply concerned with the cybersecurity breaches, saying that DICT’s admission that the attacks originated from China poses an issue of “national security and public interest”.
READ: DICT traces hack attempts to China
“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.
“I propose that this briefing be conducted in an open hearing, to be organized by the House Committee on Public Information and the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology. 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 added.
Last Saturday, Communications and Technology Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian Dy admitted that the hacking of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) website about three weeks ago was made from an internet protocol (IP) address traced to a location in China.
READ: If China is behind hacking attempts, file diplomatic protest, says group
He also said the attackers were “coming from China Unicorn,” a Chinese state-owned telecommunications company. However, Dy admitted that for now, they cannot determine who is behind the attack, saying that they will coordinate with the Chinese government to find the perpetrators.
Aside from the OWWA website, there were also attempts to hack DICT itself, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and even President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s official website.
Romualdez said these attacks stress a need for a comprehensive response to beef up the country’s cybersecurity.
“The fact that these breaches have targeted critical domains such as cabsec.gov.ph, coastguard.gov.ph, cpbrd.congress.gov.ph, dict.gov.ph, doj.gov.ph, and ncws.gov.ph, in addition to the private domain of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr, signifies a dire need for an immediate and comprehensive response,” he said.
“Furthermore, this incident reminds us of the urgent need to strengthen our cybersecurity policies and protocols. We must ensure that our national cybersecurity strategies are robust enough to withstand such attacks and agile enough to adapt to the evolving digital landscape,” he added.
Romualdez meanwhile assured the public that the House will help if legislative action would be needed to boost the country’s cybersecurity.
“Ang pag-atake sa ating mga sistema sa internet ay hindi lamang banta sa ating pamahalaan kundi pagnanakaw na rin sa ating sariling tahanan. Hindi natin ito dapat palampasin at kailangan nating labanan,” Romualdez said.
(The attack on our systems is not only a threat to the government but also theft on our own house. We should not let this pass by and we need to fight this.)
“The House of Representatives stands ready to support any legislative action necessary to enhance our cybersecurity and protect our nation from such digital threats. We take this matter with utmost seriousness and urgency,” he added.