Hackers deface Philippine websites, back anti-corruption protest

MANILA Sun Nov 3, 2013 5:40am EST

Philippines' President Benigno Aquino attends the 11th ASEAN-India Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ahim Rani

Philippines' President Benigno Aquino attends the 11th ASEAN-India Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, October 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ahim Rani

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MANILA (Reuters) - A group of hackers claiming ties with international activist group Anonymous defaced Philippine government websites on Sunday, calling for support for a planned anti-corruption protest in congress this week.

Calling themselves Anonymous Philippines, the group posted on its Facebook page a list of sites it had defaced with a message seeking support for a protest demanding the abolition of "pork barrel funds" - money activists say is used for political patronage.

"We apologize for this inconvenience, but this is the easiest way we could convey our message to you, our dear brothers and sisters who are tired of this cruelty and this false democracy, tired of this government and the politicians who only think about themselves," read a message on the defaced websites.

A scandal over lawmakers' misuse of public funds has become the biggest crisis of President Benigno Aquino's three-year rule, tainting his carefully crafted image as a corruption fighter and undermining his ability to push economic reforms.

National and local government agencies and a Philippine embassy website were among those defaced. The group said the government "in many ways, has failed its Filipino citizens".

On its Facebook page, it indicated the defaced sites of the state postal agency, the Insurance Commission, the Optical Media Board, an anti-piracy agency, and the Sugar Regulatory Administration. Also defaced was the Philippine embassy's website in Seoul.

The attack on Philippine websites occurred after the Singapore government received a threat last week via a YouTube video put up by someone claiming to be part of Anonymous.

It threatened to bring down key infrastructure to protest against the city-state's new licensing rules imposed on websites.

The video shows an individual in Anonymous's trademark mask of 17th century British conspirator Guy Fawkes, saying: "No government has the right to deprive their citizens the freedom of information. We demand you reconsider the regulations of your framework or we will be forced to go to war with you."

A blog section of pro-government Straits Times newspaper was hacked on Friday morning and temporarily carried a statement complaining about how the newspaper had reported the hacking threat. The paper said it had referred the matter to the police.

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato. Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong in Singapore.; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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