The office of Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV has reported to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) identity theft and hacking incidents to supposedly try and implicate opposition senators in a destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.
At a press conference, Aquino disclosed that at least five email accounts, some of his staff and others of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, were hacked from March 21 to October 11.
“We were able to uncover that some of our Senate staff have been hacked and have been used to send falsified e-mails to other individuals,” Aquino said.
He said the first incident was discovered on March 21 when one of Pangilinan’s staff members saw a draft e-mail with the subject “The investigation on DDS.” The draft e-mail was never written by the said staff member.
Another incident on September 7 showed that a hacker sent an e-mail to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from a second hacked account. The subject said “emergency inquiry from office of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.
“They wanted to get more details of the GSIS website while posing as a Senate staff,” Aquino said, adding that they have already reached out to the government office.
The third incident was on September 26 wherein Aquino’s staff member saw a dubious email the drafts folder. The email had a subject “leaked media plan to destroy PRRD” and was addressed to Pangilinan and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
This prompted Aquino’s office to report to the NBI Cybercrime Division the said incident.
The fourth incident was also discovered at Aquino’s office. On October 11, a hacker sent an e-mail to Aquino’s staff with the subject “list of expenses of last month’s office supplies.” The email had an attachment, which had no content when opened.
“Ang tingin natin, this is already a virus or program to get whatever information,” Aquino said.
Aquino said the IP addresses mostly used were traced to the Senate Wi-Fi, and at least one IP address was in the United States.
The fifth incident, also on October 11, pertains to an email sent using the hacked account of Pangilinan’s staff member. The email had an attachment, which could also not be opened.
Aquino said the emails were mostly sent to staff of opposition senators, the senators themselves, and even members of the former ruling Liberal Party (LP).
Aquino said they also wrote to the AFP because of the mention of a “destabilization attempt.” He said they have also sought the assistance of the Deparment of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
“Ang ginawa nila is illegal. Make no mistake about it. Hindi lang ito malicious. This is illegal” Aquino said.
“There is an attempt to gather more information kaya marapat ibahagi para malaman niyo na, on the record, wala kaming kinalaman dito. Also to all the hackers na hinahabol na sila at hahabulin namin sila,” he said.