Monday, April 23, 2012

News Update Palace calls for end to cyber-attacks over Panatag Shoal row

While it maintained the government will continue to pursue the diplomatic track on the matter, Malacañang called Sunday for an end to cyber-attacks on Philippine and Chinese websites stemming from the ongoing standoff in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said cyber-attacks that seek to heighten tension will not help resolve the issue. “It will not (bode) well for anyone from both sides to increase tension on the issue,” she said on government-run dzRB radio. But she sought to downplay the effects of last weekend's exchange of cyber-attacks, saying they should not disrupt Philippine-China relations. Neither should the attacks have any effect on the diplomatic approach by both sides, she said. “We don’t see it will have any negative effects on the talks. We will continue to pursue the talks and we will continue to pursue the diplomatic track,” she said. On Friday, the website of the University of the Philippines System was defaced, supposedly by pro-China hackers who claimed the shoal was theirs. A day later, Chinese websites were also attacked, with the attackers appearing to be from the Philippines. The standoff at the shoal started last week when Philippine military forces spotted Chinese fishing boats in the area, and found them taking endangered species. But before the Philippine Navy boat BRP Gregorio del Pilar could make arrests, Chinese vessels blocked its path. The fishing boats had since left the area. Meanwhile, Valte reiterated the ongoing Philippine-US Balikatan exercises are not related to the ongoing territorial tiff. She said the Balikatan exercises had been scheduled long before the present standoff. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Raul Hernandez was quoted as saying they “denounce such cyber attacks regardless from which side they are coming from.” — LBG