Ang Bayan
February 21, 2019

DDoS attacks and other attacks on press freedom

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IN THE PAST two months, consecutive and simultaneous attacks were carried out against websites of the Communist Party of the Philippines and online alternative news outfits. Such wide-ranging and coordinated attacks through DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) have been launched by no other than the special units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)—the so-called social media monitoring cells or cyber army.

These aim to shut down the said websites and cut their connections to the public. This is a direct method of censoring the broadcast of people’s criticism and resistance against the US-Duterte regime and its policies.

The PRWC (philippinerevolution.info) was among those first attacked with DDos on December 26, 2018, coinciding the commemmoration of the CPP’s 50th anniversary. As a result of the attack, the website was inaccessible for a few days. Also on the same day, websites of alternative media Kodao, Bulatlat and PinoyWeekly experienced their first DDos attacks after covering CPP celebrations.

A DDoS attack is a method of attacking a website for it not to be accessed by the public. This is done through overloading the server (a computer managing the website) using botnet or a network of thousands of computers illegally controlled by the mastermind of the attack.

DDos attacks continue up to the present. Added to the list of targeted websites are Manila Today, Altermidya, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and Karapatan. These news outfits and organizations assail extrajudicial killings, TRAIN law, Oplan Tokhang and other anti-people policies of the Duterte regime. Qurium, an organization of internet and computer experts assisting progressives against DDoS, was likewise attacked.
An investigation by Qurium revealed that the DDoS attacks come from the same group, using the same resources and applying a consistent style. Only a wide-ranging organization with huge funds and resources such as the AFP’s cyberarmy has the capacity to launch these. This army was trained and continues to be funded by the US. In fact, on February 11, the US promised to turn over an additional P300 million to the AFP for gathering information and surveillance in the name of combatting terrorism.

Likewise, the regime’s deception and fakery continue alongside its internet censorship campaign. On December 2018, the AFP created a fake website bearing much similarity to the PWRC website in its aim to deceive the audience. The said website initially posted a fake open letter by the CPP founding chairperson Jose Ma. Sison. Afterwards, the AFP mirrored the design of the CPP official website in order to spur confusion among those who await news of the revolution.

For some time now, the AFP cyber army has also been attacking and monitoring activities of progressives. Using its trolls, the regime spreads fake news and insults against them on Facebook.

A number of social media accounts of the CPP have successively been reported by the AFP to be taken down. CPP social media accounts have also been prohibited to post and were suspended for several times. Various NPA commands and CPP units also underwent the same suppression on varying occassions since last year. As early as 2017, Duterte ordered the reactionary military to destroy the CPP including those it tagged as its legal fronts and the CPP’s infrastructure in the internet.

AB (2019-02-21): DDoS attacks and other attacks on press freedom