Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Negros, Panay Army chiefs swap posts

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 31): Negros, Panay Army chiefs swap posts
Col. Benedict Arevalo, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, has replaced Col. Alberto Desoyo as 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, effective Monday.

Desoyo, meanwhile, replaced Arevalo as commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade in Panay.

Arevalo is not a stranger to his new assignment in Negros. He use d to be an intelligence officer of the 302nd Infantry (Achiever) Brigade in Negros Island from 1994-1995, and then 1996-1998. He also served as intelligence and operations officer of the defunct 3rd ID’s 7th Infantry Battalion from 1992-1994.

This time, Arevalo is facing a bigger responsibility, as he will supervise four Army battalions in Negros, being the new commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

Desoyo yesterday confirmed that he is now the new commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade stationed in Dingle, Iloilo.
Arevalo belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class 1990. He has two other siblings serving the AFP, who are also graduates of PMA.

Fact-finding mission says paramilitary killed Sagay farmers

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Oct 28): Fact-finding mission says paramilitary killed Sagay farmers

A national fact-finding mission on the massacre of nine farmers in Negros Occidental said suspected government agents are behind the bloodbath last October 20 even as the Philippine National Police insists so-called recruiters of the victims are the suspected perpetrators.

The mission said the likely killers are active members of the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) who are “commonly known” to be engaged in protecting haciendas and are under the control of the local government of Sagay City.

Based on the way the victims were brutalized after being killed and their history of killings and harassments, it is likely SCAA gunmen, numbering 10 to 15, killed the farmers, the mission said.

The group also cited earlier red-baiting statements issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leading to the massacre.

The mission was composed of Salinlahi, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, KARAPATAN National Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Gabriela Women’s Party Congresswoman Arlene Brosas and Atty. Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Hours before the massacre, the victims started a land cultivation activity to plant vegetables to tide them over in between sugarcane cropping activities.

Police story

The Philippine National Police, however, insisted on its story that the victims were killed as part of a plot to destabilize and oust the Rodrigo Duterte government.

PNP Region VI director John Bulalacao said they filed multiple murder charges Friday against Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, both members of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), as well as other John Does.

Bulalacao said Saturday that Manlangit and Arquillo deceived the victims by enticing them to join the land cultivation activity in exchange for a parcel of land once Hacienda Nene is distributed to farmers through land reform.

“[They were] persuading innocent people by promising them land not knowing that they become part of a greater force that would generate outrage to the government,” Bulalacao claimed.

Bulalacao claimed the police have eight witnesses, including the 14-year old massacre survivor Sagay police earlier tried to arrest.

The police general said their “complainant-witnesses” voluntarily submitted their respective affidavits, including the statement of the minor as witnessed by the Sagay development and social welfare office.

Upon learning that the boy was about to be arrested by local police, however, his mother Flordeliza Cabahug and mission members claimed custody of the boy.

Red-baiting and killings before the massacre

The fact-finding mission cited that in April, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has accused the NFSW as a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) and that their land cultivation activities are projects to fund NPA operations.

Last December 21, suspected SCAA members killed and burned the body of NFSW-Sagay chairperson Flora Gemola in Sagay’s Hacienda Susan.

In February 22, NFSW member Ronald Manlanat was shot in the head in Hacienda Joefred, also in Sagay.

The gunmen also shot some Hacienda Nene massacre victims on the head and burned three of them after being killed.

The mission said Hacienda Nene’s leaseholder Allan Simbingco rents 400 hectares of land of different haciendas in Sagay City alone.

“Most of the haciendas that he’s directly involved in are the ones with land disputes, even those already under so-called preliminary activities of Department of Agrarian Reform [prior to being awarded to farmer-beneficiaries],” the mission said.

Simbingco is a close relative of Sagay City mayor Alfredo Marañon III and Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Jr.

The Marañons are known to be actively recruiting former Revolutionary Proletarian Army gunmen to be part of the SCAA, the mission cited.

“In fact, the local housing project in Barangay Bulanon is allotted for SCAA members,” the mission said.

Navy decommissions BRP Bienvenido Salting after 22 years

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 1): Navy decommissions BRP Bienvenido Salting after 22 years

The Philippine Navy (PN) formally retired the BRP Bienvenido Salting (PC-112), a Tomas Batillo-class fast attack craft, after 22 years in service Wednesday.

Decommissioning ceremonies took place at Commodore Posadas Wharf East, Fort San Felipe, Naval Base Cavite, Cavite City, Navy spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said in a statement.

Present during the ceremonies were PN flag-office-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, Philippine Fleet head Rear Admiral Danilo Rodelas along with Littoral Combat Force head Capt. Rey Dela Cruz.

The ship was named after Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Salting, one of the officers assigned to the Philippines Expeditionary Forces in Korea in 1951.

Formerly known as Patrol Killer Medium (PKM) 225 the ship was commissioned and deployed by the Republic of Korea (ROK) in 1979.

BRP Bienvenido Salting is one of the five PKM that were transferred to the Philippine Navy’s inventory in 1995 under the RP-ROK Defense Agreement.

It was commissioned on May 22, 1996 and since then, was actively deployed to conduct coastal patrol interdiction. She was one of the elements of the famed Naval Task Force “Stingray”, which was extensively used in support of the conduct of internal security operations and was deployed in Naval Forces Central area-of-responsibility to secure the country’s tourist spots and critical infrastructures in the coastal areas.

The ship's presence, together with other floating assets, helped secure local communities amidst the threat of kidnapping and terrorism in Central and Eastern Visayas.

“Having been in service for decades, it is understandable that one day, she will definitely reach her maximum operational limit,” Empedrad said.

“Today may have been the last day she served our maritime nation but to all of us, she will remain an epitome of loyal service and her memory will always be cherished by the generations of naval officers and sailors who served with her,” he added.

Aside from BRP Bienvenido Salting, the PN decommissioned BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) last March 15.

The decommissioning of a naval ship is a significant activity and a major part in the modernization of the PN as it deliberately phases out older vessels in lieu of newer and more capable platforms.

Zata said the Navy is looking forward to decommission more ships as it readies to receive a newer Pohang class frigate and its purposely built frigate, all from ROK by 2020.

Suspected high-ranking rebel official arrested at Kabankalan checkpoint

From Panay News (Nov 1): Suspected high-ranking rebel official arrested at Kabankalan checkpoint

A suspected member of the executive committee of the New People’s Army’s Komite sa Rehiyon-Negros was arrested at a checkpoint on Oct. 26 at 9:20 p.m. along the national road of Barangay 9, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

Alleged rebel group Regional Education Department (RED) member Mary Grace Delecano, “alyas Cleo Karyle,” was arrested by joint elements of the Kabankalan City Police Station, 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB), Philippine Army Scout and the 604th IB by virtue of a warrant of arrest for the crime of murder.

Judge Fernando Elumba, of Regional Trial Court Branch 61 issued the warrant of arrest dated Dec. 11, 2012.

The authorities recovered in possession of the suspect a cellular phone, a Macbook and subversive documents.

She is now in the custody of the local police.

Duterte to Sison: Go home and go to war here

From GMA News (Nov 1): Duterte to Sison: Go home and go to war here

President Rodrigo Duterte challenged anew Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to go back to the Philippines and wage his war in the country.

Duterte slammed the communist leader for allegedly making up stories, but in reality, Sison has no capability which he can brag of.

"He likes to make up stories so much but has no skill to boast of. But then he keeps on espousing revolution while he’s there in The Netherlands, not here. If you are the leader of a cause, go home and go to war here. Why don’t you just go home?" Duterte said in his speech Cagayan De Oro on Wednesday.

"You would even brag. Ako? I have the Air Force. Airplanes? We have plenty. I have the Navy. Do you know how many ships I have? Ah mamili ka lang. Army? Ah susmaryosep. Navy, I have plenty of ships," Duterte added.

Moreover, Duterte also criticized communists for believing in what Sison would always say, calling members of the New People's Army (NPA) as fools.

"Why would you let yourself be fooled with that? Who is your God? Si Sison? All of your --- everything that you died for, the idea, your theology and politics, all of it came from Sison’s brain," Duterte said.

"The style of the communists is they kill their own comrades and blame it on the… The NPA are such fools. They haven’t done anything," he added.

Duterte and Sison have traded barbs since peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels did not push through in November 2017 after the President lamented the continued attacks by the rebels on troops and civilians.

The talks were supposed to resume in June in Norway but Duterte called it off to give way to public consultations and review of existing agreements.

Earlier this week, Duterte dared Sison to give him a reason to go back to the peace negotiating table.

Rebels harass police detachments in Guihulngan

From Panay News (Nov 1): Rebels harass police detachments in Guihulngan

Two police detachments in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental were harassed around 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, by undetermined elements of the New People’s Army – Komite sa Rehiyon-Negros – resulting in one police personnel being wounded.

The two police detachments were the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF) at Upper Mandi-e in Barangay Hinakpan and the Superintendent Arnel Arpon Camp of 3rd Manuever Platoon, 2nd Provincial Mobile Force at Barangay Bulado.

Wounded was P01 Elvis John Lucasan, 27, of Barangay Hinakpan’s RSSF Camp, according to Superintendent Mario Baquiran, OIC police chief of Guihulngan City.

Lucasan is now in stable condition in the hospital, the official added.

The fire fight lasted for 10 minutes, with the rebels escaping toward an unknown direction.

A joint pursuit operation by the Philippine National Police personnel of Guihulngan City, RSSF, the 94th Infantry Battalion, and 65 SAC/SAF (Special Action Force/Special Action Company) based at Barangay Mckinley of Guihulngan City has been launched.

Reds to frustrate AFP’s all-out-war in Negros, says rebel spox

From GMA News (Nov 1): Reds to frustrate AFP’s all-out-war in Negros, says rebel spox

A rebel spokesperson has said that communist insurgents will frustrate government forces from waging an ‘all-out war’ on Negros Island.

In a press statement, Juanito Magbanua, spokeperson for the New People’s Army’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command - Negros Island, said their fighters, together with the revolutionary masses in the whole island, “will frustrate the fascist US-Duterte regime’s “all-out war” in Negros.”

Magbanua said the recent announcement of an “all-out war” in Negros by military chief General Carlito Galvez, “demonstrate the brutal and devious extent to which the armed apparatus of the state could be mobilized in defense of the big landlords and compradors.”

In October, Philippine National Philippine (PNP) tagged the NPA as suspects in the Sagay massacre where nine sugar workers were killed, saying the rebels’ possible motive is to fuel wrath in the public against the AFP, the PNP and, generally, the government.

A separate probe was done by Commission of Human Rights (CHR) into the massacre. The CHR said that land disputes and military or law enforcement encounter are being considered as angles in their investigation.

But according to Magbanua, the all-out-war also aims to further expand the scope of the political crackdown against activists and mass movements in Negros.

“Their brave resistance will awaken a broad range of masses and earn the active support of various democratic sectors,” Magbanua said.

1,162 communist rebels ‘neutralized’ this year, says Lorenzana

From GMA News (Oct 31): 1,162 communist rebels ‘neutralized’ this year, says Lorenzana

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday announced that more than a thousand "communist terrorist group" members have been "neutralized" by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) this year.

"The AFP internal security operations led to the neutralization of 1,162 communist terrorist group members, 907 of them voluntarily surrendered," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in his speech at the DND's 79th founding anniversary celebration.

The DND defines "neutralization" as "rendering [lawless elements] incapable of carrying out violent acts against the Filipino people, the government, and the nation." The department said that this happens "when they return to the fold of the law and live out peaceful lives in mainstream society, or willfully and permanently cease their participation in criminal acts of terror and violence, or are killed in an encounter with our defenders."

Lorenzana added that "1,238 firearms were yielded, out of which 560 were high-powered weapons."

Lorenzana also stated that across the country this year, 210 New People's Army-influenced barangays have been cleared, three guerrilla fronts have been dismantled, and 16 high-value targets from the communist group have been captured by the authorities.

"All these victories led to the recent pronouncement of the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte, that the communist insurgency will be 'over' by the '2nd quarter of 2019,' " Lorenzana said.


Lorenzana added that the inter-agency Task Force Balik-Loob (TFBL) was created in April following the influx of NPA members surrendering to the authorities.

TFBL aims to centralize the government's reintegration efforts for former rebels, Lorenzana explained.

According to the AFP Peace and Development Office, 3,443 individuals have surrendered as of September 2018.

These former rebels are now the beneficiaries of the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.

"These are not rewards for surrendering, but are intended to give them a foothold in restarting their lives, allowing social healing and reconciliation that is needed to patch up the torn social fabric due to decades of conflict," Lorenzana said of the program's services and benefits.

He also implored soldiers and civilians not to hold any grievance against the reintegration benefits for the former rebels, saying that the social returns will far outweigh the costs.

"Kulang pa ang mga benepisyong 'yan kung ikukumpara sa halagang ibinibili natin ng baril at bala. Lalong maliit ang halaga niyan kumpara sa walang katumbas na buhay na nasasayang sa labanan ng Pilipino sa kapwa Pilipino," the DND chief said.

"Kapag nagtagumpay tayo laban sa mga teroristang komunista ay mapapakinabangan natin ang peace dividends o biyaya ng kapayapaan," he added.

Lorenzana counted as other highlights of the DND's 79th year the AFP modernization, efforts in maritime domain awareness and countering violent extremism, and improved humanitarian and disaster response.

CLEARS MILITARY: Relative of Sagay shooting victim blames recruiter, NFSW for massacre

From GMA News (Oct 31): CLEARS MILITARY: Relative of Sagay shooting victim blames recruiter, NFSW for massacre

A grieving relative of one of the victims of the Sagay City shooting incident in Negros Occidental on Monday said victims were promised that they would have a parcel of land in Hacienda Nene if they will join the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

A certain Nove Bantigue, niece of victim Rannel Bantigue, blamed the NFSW and its supposed organizer Rene Manlangit for the death of her uncle, adding that there were more or less 15 recruits when the shooting incident happened.

“My uncle was recruited by a certain Rene Manlangit, NFSW organizer, because he was promised to have parcel of the land in Hacienda Nene," Nove said in a statement, according to a press release issued by the military on Tuesday.

“My uncle was just two-days-old member with that group when the shooting incident happened," she said.

"This I think is the reason why all of them were enticed to join the group. Manlangit and his group NFSW are the only suspects of this crime," Nove added.

She said they were surprised that Rannel decided to join NFSW considering the fact that their family had a previous land dispute with Manlangit.

"My mother, Josephine Bantigue, wife of Rannel’s brother, is a former member of Agrarian Reform of Task Force Mapalad (TFM). It is also an association that aims to acquire land for farmers," Nove said.

"Unlike the NFSW, TFM does not believe in armed struggle. They are legal organization and does not have NPA (New People's Army) as armed protector," she added.

Nove recalled that TFM had planned to harvest farm products in Hacienda Nene. However, tenant Tessie Cabras got enraged and filed robbery and grave coercion case against the said group.

"It was also the time when Manlangit took my mother’s decision very seriously. At the time when warrant of arrest was released, Manlangit even escorted the police officers to my mother’s location," Nove said.

"My mother was jailed for six days but was released after the tenant decided not to pursue the case because she learned that my mother was the wife of her friend," she added.

Nove also claimed that Manlangit was in the area when the brutal killing occurred.

"He was there. Manlangit even reported the incident to the police and informed them with the intent to delay their response of an exaggerated 40 number of assailants. Why will he do that?” Nove said.

Meanwhile, Nove also cleared the military from being involved in the deadly incident.

"There is no way or reasons that our soldiers are involved in that incident. They were not there," Nove said.

"It is easy for us to identify new faces in our community that is why we are very certain that our soldiers don’t have the hand on this incident. The culprits did this to pin the blame to our soldiers," she added.

Bantigue was already laid to rest.

Manlangit was among the nine suspects who have been slapped with multiple murder cases.

Nine members of the NFSW were killed on October 20 as they were resting in Hacienda Nene in Purok Firetree. Three of the victims were supposedly burned by the suspects.

Some survivors have denied allegations that they also had firearms when the incident took place. They also dismissed the accusation that the NFSW is a front of the NPA.

The NFSW has maintained that the "private army" of "powerful landlords" in the area were responsible for the shooting incident.

The military, for its part, had claimed that the massacre was part of an alleged communist plot to remove President Rodrigo Duterte from power.

Security forces in Sabah's east coast on alert against Abu Sayyaf

From the Star Online (Oct 31): Security forces in Sabah's east coast on alert against Abu Sayyaf

KOTA KINABALU: Security forces in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) in Sabah’s east coasts have mobilised all assets to prevent cross-border crimes following information on potential kidnappings in the area.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali said they received information that a group of approximately 10 Abu Sayyaf Group members armed with firearms was planning to kidnap businessmen or foreign vessel crew members at any chance they had in waters off Sabah.

He said the information also stated that the Abu Sayyaf were using unmarked blue-and-white speedboats locally known as jungkong for this purpose. (Jungkongs are Malaysian-styled speedboats designed to cut through shallow waters.)

“We have mobilised all our assets to the field and guard posts,” Hazani said in a statement here on Wednesday (Oct 31).

He said they had also informed all post guards and patrol, as well as security forces, to be on high alert at all times while operations were carried out to prevent the entry of these criminals.

“We need the cooperation from all local communities, especially those living in water villages and coastal areas, to provide information if they see or know of any suspicious people or activities,” he said.

Hazani said the information received was similar to what was published in an online article by the Marine Link warning sea crews and coastal residents of kidnapping threats.

The article, titled "Piracy Warning Off Philippines", also stated that the Philippine Focal Point (Philippine Coast Guard) had warned that a group of approximately 10 Abu Sayyaf members armed with pistol, rifles and grenade launchers was planning to conduct kidnapping activities in Sabah.

It urged ship masters and crews to strongly exercise extra vigilance when transiting the waters of Eastern Sabah and Sulu-Celebes Seas.

The Esszone includes districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

ReCAAP Warns of New Abu Sayyaf Kidnapping Threat

From the Maritime Executive (Oct 30): ReCAAP Warns of New Abu Sayyaf Kidnapping Threat


Abu Sayyaf fighters in an undated video still (social media)

On Tuesday, the ReCAAP piracy reporting center warned that a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group is preparing to launch another round of pirate attacks in the waters off Sabah, Malaysia.

According to ReCAAP, the Philippine Coast Guard believes that a group of about ten Abu Sayyaf members are planning to conduct kidnappings in and around Eastern Sabah "at any opportune time." The ASG fighters do not have specific, pre-identified targets, but are expected to pursue "businessmen or ship's crew of foreign vessels passing through the area."

The suspected fighters are using an unmarked, blue and white motorized launch of the Malaysian design known as a jungkong. ReCAAP reports that they are heavily armed, with pistols, rifles and at least one grenade launcher. Mariners are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance when transiting the waters off Eastern Sabah and the Sulu-Celebes Seas, and ReCAAP has long advised ships to avoid the affected area altogether whenever possible.

Separately, at the nearby port of Zamboanga, the Philippine Coast Guard is deploying additional security teams and K9 units to prevent "entry of lawless elements," according to Lieutenant Commander Noriel Ramos. Zamboanga is a key seaport for travel to and from the Sulu archipelago, the home of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Fighting between the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Philippine military continues in the region. On Tuesday, two suspected Abu Sayyaf members were killed on Sulu in a three-hour firefight with Philippine Marines. The Armed Forces of the Philippines estimated the size of the Abu Sayyaf unit in the engagement at about 40 fighters.

The AFP launched a large-scale ground offensive to eliminate Abu Sayyaf bases in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan in 2016. The effort has reduced the rate of Abu Sayyaf hijackings and kidnappings, but firefights and arrests continue. About 125 Abu Sayyaf fighters have surrendered to AFP forces since the start of the year under an amnesty program.

PRO-12, 10ID strengthen cooperation vs. terror

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 31): PRO-12, 10ID strengthen cooperation vs. terror

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 and the Army's 10th Infantry Division (ID) have strengthened their cooperation to address terrorism threats in local communities in Region 12 or Soccsksargen.

Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, PRO-12 regional director, said Wednesday they signed a joint implementation plan (Implan) with the 10ID to "strategically end" bombing incidents in the area.
Soccsksargen stands for South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.

He said the Implan was finalized during a joint conference attended by top officials of the 10ID and PRO-12 at the regional police headquarters in Barangay Tambler here on Tuesday afternoon.

The Implan was signed by Rasco and 10ID commander Maj. Gen. Noel Clement.

"We mainly committed to work hard and pursue plans and programs that would pave the way for an even stronger partnership and collaborative actions to prevent bombing incidents in Soccsksargen," Rasco said.

The region was rocked by several bomb attacks these past months blamed on terror cells of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Ansar al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP).

The BIFF was tagged as behind the twin bomb attacks in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat on Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 that killed five people and injured more than 40 others.

Several alleged AKP members had been charged in connection with bomb explosion in Makar junction, Barangay Apopong here last Sept. 16 that left eight people wounded.

Rasco said the Implan provides for the guidelines for their joint law enforcement and security operations to effectively "fight our enemies on the ground."

He said it sets the necessary platform to address any form of violence as well as secure and protect residents and local communities against terrorism and violent extremism.

"It gives a working condition that necessitates our commitment and synergy to properly achieve our mandate to safeguard the people, their economic activities and resources against (security-related) vulnerabilities," he added.

Maute 'sighting' triggers panic, evacuation in Koronadal

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 31): Maute 'sighting' triggers panic, evacuation in Koronadal

City officials urged residents on Wednesday to be more responsible in sharing information after a report on supposed sightings of Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists in an upland village here triggered panic and evacuation among residents.

Around 100 families from Sitio Acub in Barangay San Isidro and neighboring villages here fled their homes on Monday night due to the reported presence of armed members of the Maute terror group.

City Administrator Cyrus Urbano said the incident was a case of misinformation and "fake news."

"We should be more responsible in sharing information, especially in social media, about incidents that could create panic among residents," Urbano said.

Urbano, who heads the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the false reports affected residents of Barangays San Isidro, Assumption, Mambucal, Sta. Cruz and Carpenter Hill.

He said the evacuees, who mostly took temporary shelter in barangay plazas, returned to their homes several hours later after getting assurance from authorities of their security.

Supt. Benjiel Kirby Bajo, Koronadal City police chief, said the reported presence of terrorists was based on wrong information.

Bajo said residents mistakenly identified joint Army and police personnel then patrolling portions of Sitio Acub in San Isidro as terrorists.

"It eventually spread as a supposed attack by Maute terrorists," he added.

DICT partners with Kaspersky to boost cybersecurity in gov’t

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 31): DICT partners with Kaspersky to boost cybersecurity in gov’t

The Department of Information and Communications Technology has signed an agreement with Kaspersky Lab to strengthen cybersecurity capability in the government. (Photo courtesy of Kaspersky Lab)

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has partnered with international cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, to strengthen cybersecurity efforts in the government.

The DICT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Kaspersky, which will enhance capacity development and institution building on cybersecurity within the public sector during the first Philippine International Cybersecurity Conference held in Davao City last week.

“Our experience at Kaspersky Lab alone shows how a collective approach in battling cybercrime is very effective at demystifying the most complex of cyberthreats and keeping ahead of the cyber criminals. With our cybersecurity expertise, we hope to support the Philippines the best way we can as we do with other governments around the world,” Stephan Neumeier, Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific managing director, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The MOU states that both parties will establish tuition-based training programs for the government, research and competence centers, as well as universities, to boost information technology security skills and support cybersecurity awareness drive on online security in the country.

They will also share relevant information, intelligence and data; and assist each other in cybercrime investigations through the DICT National Cyber Intelligence Center.

For his part, DICT Assistant Secretary Allan Cabanlong said the partnership with Kaspersky will strengthen the country’s efforts in identifying and preventing cybersecurity threats.

“We hope that this holistic private-public cooperation will be a fine example of how information and expertise-sharing will be highly beneficial to the public ultimately. We are confident that this partnership will bring forth a positive impact not just on the Philippines’ national cyberdefenses but also on the lives of ordinary Filipino citizens,” Cabanlong said.

The Philippines was the ninth most attacked country in terms of online threats worldwide, according to Kaspersky Lab’s cyberthreat report for the second quarter.

Around 10.6 million web infections were recorded for the period, 39 percent of which were against individual Internet users and 11 percent against businesses.