Philippine Activists Block Main Govt Website to Protest Alleged Rights Violations

Dennis Jay Santos
Davao, Philippines
2021-03-10
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Philippine Activists Block Main Govt Website to Protest Alleged Rights Violations A Filipina carries a sign condemning recent government attacks on civilians as she joins others at a rally in Manila to mark International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021
AP

A group of Filipino activists said Wednesday they had hacked into the Philippine government’s main website to block access to it as a protest against alleged human rights violations by authorities.

Calling themselves Cyber PH for Human Rights, the group’s members claimed they successfully launched a cyberattack around 4 p.m. on the government website (www.gov.ph). The website could still not be accessed after midnight Thursday (local time).

“We come before the public today to stand in solidarity against the worsening human rights situation in the country, and to call for justice for the massacre of nine activists and for countless more unarmed civilians who had lost their lives under this regime,” the group said in statement said. “We hold President Rodrigo Duterte personally responsible for all of these deaths.”

The group said the cyberattack aimed to send a message to Duterte and his government to stop killing unarmed civilians, days after nine were slain in a police and military anti-insurgency operation on Sunday. 

The group called the country’s national security adviser, its national police chief and the military commander for the southern Luzon region “ringleaders in the killing of unarmed civilians.”

Government officials did not immediately respond to a BenarNews request for comment.

Group members, who described themselves as ordinary Filipinos, said the cyberattack was the first of its kind in the Philippines. They also threatened more action in the coming days.

“It is our commitment to undertake further cyberattacks on other government assets including assets of non-state agents who had fostered fake news, slander and libel to the public,” the group said.

9 deaths

On March 7, authorities launched a series of raids targeting communist rebels but that killed nine people who, according to human rights groups, were activists and critics of President Duterte.  

Debold Sinas, the National Police Chief, meanwhile, said the raids were based on search warrants, but police were also investigating the rights groups’ allegations that those killed were summarily executed. 

The police operations were “legitimate,” Sinas said, “because they are covered by SWs [search warrants].”

On Wednesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch stressed the need for United Nations- member countries to address the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines by deploying a “rapid response unit” to investigate the killings. 

“U.N.-member states should see through this deadly deception and press for international action that would hold the Duterte administration to account,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for HRW.

A day earlier, the U.N. Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it was “appalled by appears to be the simultaneous arbitrary killings” in the Philippines.

“We are deeply worried that these latest killings indicate an escalation in violence, intimidation, harassment and ‘red-tagging’ of human rights defenders,” OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.  

Red-tagging is a term activists use when law enforcers accuse groups or individuals of being communist rebels or supporters of the leftist insurgency.

The killings came two days after Duterte ordered security forces to end the country’s 52-year-old communist rebellion, the longest in Asia.

“I’ve told the military and the police that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive,” he said at the time.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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