By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard
The Department of Justice confirmed Sunday its Office of Cybercrime had received an online tip about an alleged plot to assassinate presidential aspirant and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and acted immediately to investigate the matter and referred the same to the National Bureau of Investigation for further probe.
“It was our Office of Cybercrime who received an online tip and acted immediately in view of the serious nature of the information received.
The NBI is now also on it,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
“The NBI will give priority attention to any validated information pertaining to a threat to the personal security of any presidential aspirant,” Guevarra said, even as he admitted that they “have not received any similar information regarding personal threats to other aspirants for top national elective position.”
The DOJ has directed the NBI to validate the tip.
“Pending verification, we are keeping other details confidential for security reasons,” Guevarra said.
He said the DOJ’s OCC “has already requested the preservation of the suspect account.”
The DOJ-OCC officer-in-charge Charito Zamora confirmed that she 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:
“Nagmemeeting kami araw araw para paghandaang ipa assassinate namin si BBM humanda kayo.”
“We made an initial investigation on the matter and referred the same to the NBI-CCD & PNP-ACG for further investigation,” Zamora said in a separate text message.
“We also emailed the Tik Tok Law Enforcement Outreach and requested the data related to the subject account preserved pending investigation by the law enforcement agents concerned.”
According to the OOC head, the DOJ’s cybercrime office would receive every now and then “a text message or email from concerned citizens and report occurrences in the social media, which they feel must be looked into, and we also act on it.”
When asked if they already determined the personalities involved in the alleged assassination plot against Marcos, Zamora said: “We have no information yet if there are particular persons already being investigated by our law enforcement agents or the owners of the subject accounts had been identified yet.”
She explained that as a matter of procedure, whenever the OOC would receive a text or email reporting something that some concerned citizens feel must be looked into, they promptly act on it.
“And in this instance, I got a text last Friday from a concerned citizen. the threat of assassination against anyone, under the law, is considered Grave Threats. Thus, our referral to the law enforcement agents,” the OOC chief said.
Zamora said that Kerri Woods of TikTok Law Enforcement Outreach was now working on the request of the DoJ cybercrime probers.
The DoJ cybercrime office has also written its counterparts in the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police to assist in determining the extent of the ‘kill plot’ and the personalities behind it.
“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 January 28, 2022 was quoted as saying.
“As a matter of procedure, we immediately proceed in having it investigated because of the seriousness of the subject. It’s really an actionable intelligence concern,” explained Zamora, who refused to elaborate more on the alleged plot.
In a statement, Marcos chief of staff and spokesman Vic Rodriguez said that “while the report on the assassination plot is concerning, we are not cowered by such threat. Bongbong shall continue to personally deliver his message around the country with firm resolve to unify the nation.”
“We commend the cybercrime office of the Justice department, through Sec. Menardo Guevarra, for its swift and uncompromising response to uncover those behind this open threat to harm aspiring president Bongbong Marcos,” said Rodriguez.