Web site attack traced to Philippines

TOUGH TALKING::President Ma visited the family of a fisherman shot dead on Thursday and said that Manila must offer an official apology and compensation

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, May 13, 2013 - Page 1

The official Web site of the Presidential Office has been attacked by hackers traced to the Philippines, a spokesperson said yesterday, days after the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by personnel on a Philippine government vessel.

The Web site became inaccessible at 9:17am, but was up again soon after 10am, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said.

The denial-of-service attack was traced to the Philippines, Lee said, adding that the Cabinet has been dealing with the matter.

The Cabinet also reported attacks from the Philippines on the Web sites of several government agencies, including the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Coast Guard Administration.

Signs of the attacks were detected on Friday and on Saturday it was confirmed that the source was in the Philippines, Cabinet spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said.

Local government Web sites in Taipei and Greater Tainan, and those of a number of private enterprises have also been targeted, Cheng said.

The defense ministry reported slow access to its Web site yesterday after it was flooded with information from an unknown source. However, the ministry’s internal network was not affected and it has activated security measures, spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said.

Local media said that hackers in Taiwan had launched attacks on Philippine Web sites after 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was shot dead on Thursday in an incident involving the Taiwanese fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 and a Philippine patrol boat.

Hung Yu-chih (洪育智), skipper of the Kuang Ta Hsing and the son of Hung Shih-cheng, denied that he had triggered the incident by attempting to ram the Philippine vessel.

He said it was impossible for his boat to ram the much larger Philippine ship, and his crew had not taken any aggressive actions, as a Philippine Presidential Office spokeswoman had claimed.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) visited Hung Shih-cheng’s family on Pingtung County’s Siaoliouchio (小琉球) Island yesterday and promised that the government would not let the matter rest until Manila had offered an official apology and provided compensation.

Taiwan has called on the Philippines to issue a formal apology, compensate the victim’s family, investigate the incident, punish the perpetrators and start fishery talks with Taiwan as soon as possible, the Presidential Office said in a statement late on Saturday.

If the Philippines fails to respond by midnight tomorrow, Taiwan will suspend importation of Philippine labor, recall its representative in Manila and ask the Philippine envoy in Taiwan to return home, the Presidential Office said.

Philippine authorities offered their “deepest sympathies and condolences” on Saturday and vowed to conduct an “impartial, transparent and expeditious” investigation into the tragedy.

“As the Philippine Coast Guard has stated, we express our heartfelt sorrow on the unfortunate situation that occurred during one of the anti-illegal fishing patrols conducted by a Philippine fishery law enforcement vessel [MCS 3001] within the maritime jurisdiction [waters off the Batanes group of islands] of the Philippines on the morning of May 9, 2013, which tragically resulted in the death of a fisherman from one of the fishing vessels reportedly poaching in the area,” Philippine Presidential Office deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said in the statement.

“We extend our sincere and deepest sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family of the victim,” Valte said.

The commander and crew of the MCS 3001 have been relieved of their duties, she said.

“The Philippine Coast Guard, together with other agencies, assures everyone that this investigation will be conducted in an impartial, transparent and expeditious manner,” Valte said.

The Philippines will look into ways of preventing similar incidents in the future, she said.

Reacting to the apology, Li said the Philippine government would pay the price if it continued to respond to the incident with “flippant remarks.”

“The Philippine government’s casual attitude toward the incident shows its insincerity in attempting to resolve the issue,” she said.

“We hope the Philippine government will face the issue with the respect and dignity the incident requires,” Li said.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has also been informed of the 72-hour ultimatum, a Philippine official said.

Amadeo Perez Jr, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), which represents the Philippines’ interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, said in Manila that he has informed Aquino about the Taiwanese government’s demands.

Perez declined to comment on the ultimatum, but said he has been sad since MECO Managing Director Antonio Basilio reported on his visit to Hung’s family.

Commenting on the threat of sanctions against the Philippines over the incident, a labor official said that suspending the importation of Philippine labor would adversely affect Taiwan’s high-tech industry.

The technology industry will bear the brunt of such a move because it relies mainly on Philippine workers, who tend to have a good command of English, to operate machinery, said Lin San-quei (林三貴), head of the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training.

The bureau put the number of Philippine workers in Taiwan at about 87,000, most of whom are working in the manufacturing sector, while the others are mainly domestic caregivers.

Lin said that Philippine workers’ strong command of English gives them options other than Taiwan when considering overseas work. Taiwan is not necessarily their first choice, he added.

Meanwhile, some Philippine workers in Taiwan said they were aware of the threats of sanctions. Others expressed sympathy for Hung’s family and said they favor an apology by the Philippines.

A Filipina who identified herself as Amor, 38, said that she and her compatriots usually work Monday to Saturday and did not know about the shooting incident. She said it would be unfair for Taiwan to freeze the importation of workers from country.