Daily Tribune : DoJ probing alleged kill Bongbong plot

31 January 2022

By Alvin Murcia | Daily Tribune

DoJ’s cybercrime group officer-in-charge lawyer Charito Zamora has requested the social media platform to ‘preserve the data related to the subject account while the Philippine authorities are working on the legal process for its disclosure’

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has confirmed receiving an alleged assassination plot against former senator and presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. following an online tip to the Department’s cybercrime unit.

“It was our Office of Cybercrime (OoC) who received an online tip about it. The OoC has already requested the preservation of the suspect account,” Guevarra said Sunday adding that he has already directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to validate the tip.

“If a bomb joke is actionable, so is a threat of assassination, whether true or not,” he explained. “Pending verification, we are keeping other details confidential for security reasons,” he said of a TikTok post revealing the assassination plot.

Facts, not motive

When asked whether this could just be another campaign-related ploy, Guevarra said the DoJ is not “speculating on motives” but “investigating facts.”

In a message sent to the Law Enforcement Outreach Trust and Safety at TikTok, DoJ’s cybercrime group officer-in-charge lawyer Charito Zamora has requested the social media platform to “preserve the data related to the subject account while the Philippine authorities are working on the legal process for its disclosure.”

Zamora said that Kerri Woods of TikTok Law Enforcement Outreach is now working on the request of the DoJ cybercrime probers.

TikTok account

“An initial open source probe was conducted on the subject TikTok account with Uniform Source Locator (URL) https:/www.tiktok.com/@ljluna7 which initially revealed as a public account supporting xxx,” Zamora’s letter to the NBI and PNP cybercrime groups dated 28 January 2022 was quoted as saying.

Narrating on how the DoJ cybercrime office has uncovered the ‘kill plan’ against the leading presidential aspirant, Zamora said “it was a tip that a TikTok post is circulating with a message to kill BBM.”

In a statement, TikTok said such threats are not welcome on the platform.

“The promotion of violence has absolutely no place on our platform. The user’s account has been permanently banned and we are fully cooperating with the National Bureau of Investigation in their investigations,” it added.

Assassination plot

“I got a text report last Friday wherein the subject has commented a serious threat to a TikTok video posted by another TikTok account with username @joiedevivre420. The said comment states in toto: “Nagme-meeting kami araw araw para paghandaang ipa-assassinate namin si BBM. Humanda kayo” (We are meeting every day to plan on how to assassinate BBM. Be ready).

“As a matter of procedure, we immediately proceeded to having it investigated because of the seriousness of the subject. It’s really an actionable intelligence concern,” she explained.

In a statement released Sunday, BBM chief of staff and spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez said that “while the report on the assassination plot is concerning, we will not cower by such threat.

Bongbong shall continue to personally deliver his message around the country with firm resolve to unify the nation.”

Swift response

“We commend the cybercrime office of the Justice department, through Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for its swift and uncompromising response to uncover those behind this open threat to harm aspiring president Bongbong Marcos,” Rodriguez said.

Last Friday, Bongbong missed an interview with GMA Network again and failed to hold his online caravan in relation to his 2022 presidential bid.

In 2020, NBI arrested a public school teacher from Zambales who offered a P50 million reward to anyone who would kill President Rodrigo Duterte in a social media post.

DoJ pursued the case against the teacher despite his apology. He was later released after posting bail.

Other candidates

Zamora said that every now and then they receive a text or email from concerned citizens and report occurrences in the social media which they feel must be looked into, “and we always act on it.”

Guevarra, on the other hand, said the NBI will give priority attention to any validated information pertaining to a threat to the personal security of any presidential aspirant.

“We have not received any similar information regarding personal threats to other aspirants for top national elective position,” Guevarra said.

With MICHELLE GUILLANG