By Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Nestor Corrales | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking seriously a supposed assassination threat posted on video app TikTok against leading presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Sunday.
“If a bomb joke is actionable, so is a threat of assassination, whether true or not,” said Guevarra, adding that he has tasked the National Bureau of Investigation to “validate” the threat.
“The NBI will give priority to any validated information pertaining to a threat to the personal security of any presidential aspirant,” he continued.
Guevarra issued the order after the head of the DOJ Office of Cybercrime, lawyer Charito Zamora, said she received a text message on Friday from a “concerned citizen” that a post on TikTok mentioned a threat to Marcos.
“The subject has commented a serious threat to a TikTok video posted by another TikTok account with username @joiedevivre420. The comment states: “Nagmemeeting kami araw-araw para paghandaang ipa-aasasinate (sic) naming si BBM humanda kayo,” Zamora said.
The threat of assassination against anyone is considered a grave threat punishable under the law, she said.
“As a matter of procedure, we immediately proceed in having it investigated because of the seriousness of the subject,” Zamora said. “It’s really an actionable intelligence concern.”
Zamora said she has asked TikTok to preserve the data pending investigation, which would be handled by the anti-cybercrime divisions of the NBI and the Philippine National Police.
The Marcos camp, meanwhile, said the presidential candidate was not cowed by the assassination threat.
“While the report on the assassination plot is concerning, we are not cowered by such threat,” said Victor Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos.