MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has been directed to validate reports of an alleged assassination plot against presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late ousted dictator, the Department of Justice said Sunday morning.
In a Viber message to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the department's Office of Cybercrime "requested the preservation of the suspect account" after receiving an "online tip" about the supposed threat.
"Pending verification, we are keeping other details confidential for security reasons," he said, adding that the department "acted immediately in view of the serious nature of the information received."
Asked if the NBI was ordered to prioritize looking into the comment, Guevarra 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 [a] top national elective position," he also said. "If a bomb joke is actionable, so is a threat of assassination, whether true or not."
Charito Zamora, officer-in-charge of the justice department's Office of Cybercrime, said that she only received a text report on the matter so far.
Zamora said that the allegations involve a comment posted to a video by TikTok account @joiedevivre420. The comment reads: “Nagmemeeting kami araw araw para paghandaang ipa aasasinate naming si BBM humanda kayo."
(We're meeting every day to prepare to assassinate Bongbong Marcos, just wait.)
"We made an initial investigation on the matter and referred the same to the NBI Cyber Crime Division and PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group for further investigation," Zamora, a lawyer, said.
The threat of assassination against anyone is considered grave threats under the law, Zamora also 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 said.
"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."
Philstar.com also reached out to Police Lt. Michelle Sabino, spokesperson of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group for comment. This story will be updated with her response.
Lawyer Victor Rodriguez, who is Marcos' spokesperson, said that the son of the late dictator will push through with his campaign activities despite the threat.
“While 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,” he is quoted as saying in a report by ABS-CBN News.
— Franco Luna with a report from Kristine Joy Patag