Filipinos told: Exercise restraint amid cyber attacks-A A +A
Sunday, April 22, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- The government urged Sunday all Filipinos to exercise restraint amid cyber attacks on Philippines and Chinese websites linked to the ongoing standoff in the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal.
Filipino hackers reportedly retaliated and defaced Chinese government websites where they asserted the Philippines' sovereignty over the shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The retaliation came after alleged Chinese hackers defaced the state-run University of the Philippines' (UP) website on April 20, saying the Panatag, which they called as Huangyan Island, was theirs.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez denounced the ongoing cyber attacks over what appears to be an extension of the two sides’ claim over the disputed area.
“We denounce such cyber attacks regardless from which side they are coming from,” said Hernandez in a text message.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is asking netizens to leave the Scarborough Shoal dispute to diplomatic channels and, possibly, the international court.
Hernandez noted how such actions could only add fuel to the fire, given the tense standoff between vessels of the two countries, as well as the contrasting claims of China and the Philippines.
“They are counter-productive and will only add to the tensions…We call on both Filipino and Chinese netizens to be more responsible and encourage dialogue rather than discord,” he said.
A screenshot of the defaced website, www.up.edu.ph, on Friday showed a map with Chinese script that highlighted islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by the Philippines and China. The website was restored Sunday.
"We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours," the map's caption read.
The DFA, which has been leading the government's response over its increasingly tense rift with China, immediately called for an investigation into the attack on the UP website.
But on Saturday, Filipino hackers who called themselves "Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines" hit back at China, with the China University Media Union website vandalized with these words: "Chinese government is clearly retarded. Scarborough Shoal is ours!"
Another website, the http://gh.rc.gov.cn/, was defaced, with the hackers' words: "You got f**ked by the Philippines! Spratly Island is OURS!"
With these attacks, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over state-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that "at this point, it will not bode well for anybody from both sides to increase tensions because of the issue."
"We call on citizens, including ours, to exercise civil temperance in light of the issue," she added.
Standoff between the Philippine and Chinese ships over the Scarborough Shoal has reached almost two weeks since April 10.
The tension started when Philippine Navy ship tried to arrest Chinese fishermen who were caught in possession of endangered giant clams, corals and live sharks. Two Chinese surveillance ships prevented the arrest.
In a move to lessen the tension, Manila pulled out the military ship and replaced it with a Philippine Coast Guard vessel, which is a civilian ship.
Since then, both countries, which vowed to resolve the issue peacefully and diplomatically, have been talking with each other.
But the standoff remains, prompting the Philippines to urge China to join Manila in bringing up the issue before the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea (Itlos), which China rejected.
The DFA has said it will raise the issue before the Itlos unilaterally following China's rejection.
Both countries have been claiming the Scarborough Shoal, with the Philippines saying it is 124-nautical miles of Zambales province or within the 200-NM exclusive economic zone, while China's claim was based on nine-dash theory.
Meanwhile, Valte said she is yet to check if Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario already forwarded to Malacañang the shortlist of nominees for the new ambassador to China after Domingo Lee, who was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments three times, withdrew his nomination.
"If you remember, Mr. Lee only submitted his letter of withdrawal last week, late last week and Secretary Del Rosario has just recently gotten back from the United States. We will certainly confirm with the DFA if they have submitted the list and we will make an announcement once the President (Benigno Aquino III) has made his decision," she said.
Lee's backing out from the post came amid the tension in the Scarborough Shoal. (SDR/HDT/Sunnex)