Senators belonging to the minority bloc on Thursday exposed hacking incidents that compromised e-mail accounts of some of their staff members, which they said appeared to link the Liberal Party and opposition groups to the Duterte administration’s narrative of a destabilization plot.
At a press briefing, Sen. Bam Aquino revealed that at least five e-mail accounts of his and Sen. Francis Pangilinan’s staff members were compromised and that the hacking incident happened as early as March 21 this year.
All e-mail accounts were accessed through the network in the Senate and the nature of the breach in all instances were the same—that unauthorized users sent e-mails using the staff and party addresses.
Aquino said they only discovered the breach in the e-mail accounts on the third incident on Sept. 26 when his staff found a dubious e-mail in his draft folder with the subject “Leaked Media Plan to Destroy PRRD,” referring to President Duterte.
“He opened his e-mail on that day and found in his draft folder an entry pertaining to a destabilization plot that he did not write,” Aquino told reporters.
This discovery led them to track down two previous hacking incidents involving the e-mail accounts of two of Pangilinan’s staff members, which occurred on March 21 and Sept. 7, he said.
In the first incident, the hacker sent an e-mail to opposition members with the subject “The investigation on DDS,” referring to so-called Davao Death Squad while the second incident involved an e-mail to the Government Service Insurance System asking if the agency had changed its website domain.
The last two recent incidents occurred on Wednesday, both in the offices of Aquino and Pangilinan.
An initial check to hunt those behind the hacking incidents showed that the Internet Protocol (IP) address used was based in the United States and all the rest were in the Philippines.
“It could mean that the hackers are really based in the US or just using a VPN (virtual private network) to cover their tracks,” said the senator.