Communications Secretary Martin Andanar revealed that the Philippine News Agency (PNA) was under cyberattack.
This came after the state-run PNA once again got slammed for uploading stories with erroneous headlines reflecting editor’s notes. Screenshots of the lengthy headlines went viral last week, as netizens reacted negatively to yet another blunder from the news agency.
“Ganito ‘no. Friday, merong—nagkaroon kami ng cyberattack noong Friday,” Andanar said in an interview on dzRH.
“Nitong Friday na nakita nung sa IP namin na merong isang IP address na pilit pinapasok iyong lumang dashboard. Kasi may lumang website ‘di ba? Iyong lumang dashboard pilit pinapasok nung IP address na ito,” Andanar added.
The National Bureau of Investigation’s Cybercrime Division is looking into the incident, he further revealed.
“So what is the reason for you, para sa isang tao na pasukin iyong lumang dashboard na hindi na ginagamit, bakit alam niya iyon. Kasi sa lumang dashboard makikita mo iyong mga palpak noong Philippine News Agency, puwede mong i-trace iyon ‘di ba. So ngayon pinapaimbestigahan ngayon sa National Bureau of Investigation Cybercrime Division,” he said.
He noted that the dashboard has been deactivated for four months now.
“So noong April, that was the time na na-activate iyong bagong website. So mga four months ago na. Now, bakit mo bubuksan, ‘di ba? Bakit mo bubuksan iyong luma? So meron kang intensyon na hindi maganda,” Andanar said.
However, Andanar refused to say whether PNA’s blunders were caused by an inside job, and considered instead the idea that the PNA was targeted by a hacker.
“Hindi natin masasabi natin na taga-loob, pero mayroong IP address na ine-imbestigahan ngayon, pinaimbestigahan ni Usec. Joel Egco,” he explained.
With PNA getting the heat for its frequent blunders, the Communications secretary said that his agency is a victim of a “deliberate” effort to embarrass it and to discredit him.
“Sino ba iyong ibang gustong gibain dito kung hindi ako, eventually the President, hindi ba. Siyempre under ng PCOO itong PNA so ang dami nating ginagawang reporma, tapos gustong pilit gibain iyong PNA. So, meron talagang gustong gibain ako,” he said.
He once again brought up the idea of the PNA being “sabotaged,” like what he previously said after the PNA uploaded the wrong map for a story related to Ilocos Norte.
“But, ako naman, kami buong team ay we just move forward, pero itong mga nangyayaring sabotahe ay pinaiimbestigahan natin. Kasi hindi naman tayo papayag na tayo lang ang parating at the receiving end, tapos ginaganito lang tayo,” Andanar said.
PNA has committed blunders in the past, such as claiming that 95 UN member states believed there was no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, posting a Xinhua news article calling the Hauge ruling an “ill-founded award,” and using a Vietnam war photo for a Marawi-related story, among others.
In a text message to Rappler, Andanar clarified that the cyberattack he was talking about was a separate incident from the erroneous headlines.
He said that the wrong headlines on PNA’s website may have been a case of past mistakes, which someone tried to share around to embarrass the PNA.
The viral articles with lengthy headlines were published in January, March, and April, but they only came to the netizens’ attention last September 8.
“If that happened before and it was published, why would you bring it up again and make it viral? So this means you really have the intention of embarrassing the PNA,” Andanar said in Filipino.
He also considered the possibility that “jealousy” could be a factor in the motivation behind the blunders, as the state-run media has been getting more traffic as people use their websites to watch President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches and events, compared to how people used to prefer private media as their news sources.
“Siguro nakikita nila, nakikita ng kalaban siguro, kung merong mga nainggit na nagi-improve talaga iyong government media. Pero please, ‘wag naman nating pigilan iyong pag-asenso ng government media,” he said.
Andanar appointed Communications Undersecretary Joel Egco to minimize the string of blunders committed by the PNA.
Egco said he aims to make PNA a “competent source of information.”
Netizens reacted on social media over Andanar’s revelation of a cyberattack on the PNA website.