FSI, NDCP and AFP Host Forum on Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare in the Philippines

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FSI Director-General Claro S. Cristobal delivers the closing remarks during the forum.

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI), the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Office for Strategic Studies and Strategy Management (AFP-OSSSM) jointly organized the third lecture of the Heneral Antonio Luna Colloquium Series entitled Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare in the Philippines: Prospects and Implications. The forum was held last 23 August 2016 at the NDCP.  The main speakers were Police Chief Inspector Allan S. Cabanlong, Former Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Atty. Geronimo Sy and private sector representative Mr. Angel T. Redoble of RFC Advisory Services.

PCINSP Cabanlong enumerated several initiatives that the Philippines must undertake in addressing cybersecurity threats, including updating policy directives and legal controls over digital combat, identifying the lead agency in cybersecurity concerns, operationalizing action centers and the institutionalization of strategies to address cyberwarfare. He emphasized the need to define cybersecurity issues and identify appropriate agencies that could assume specific cybersecurity responsibilities. PCINSP Cabanlong also mentioned the importance of Republic Act 10844, which creates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and provides for the formulation of a national cybersecurity plan. PCINSP Cabanlong asserted that the Department of National Defense (DND) must lead in the protection of mission-critical infrastructures and systems.

Mr. Redoble said that cyberspace is the great equalizer as no state could claim supremacy over it. He explained that individuals, groups, and presumably, states which exploit the weaknesses of cyberspace are driven by political, ideological, socio-cultural, economic, and military motivations. In this regard, Mr. Redoble underscored the importance of establishing cyber-committees in the government.  He also stressed that a cybersecurity-specific law must be created to assist in the development of cybersecurity groups that could help defend the Philippines from cybersecurity threats.  Equally important is the need to train cybersecurity professionals.

Atty. Sy reiterated several cybersecurity challenges faced by the Philippines which include resource constraints, infrastructure fragmentation, and technology gaps.  He said that there is a need for cyber-advocacy in the Philippines through re-training, re-tooling and retaining cybersecurity employees.

Discussions during the open forum focused on the importance of strengthening the cyber-capabilities of the military and other enforcement agencies, and the establishment of a national cybersecurity policy that would promote active public-private partnership in combating cybersecurity threats. Mr. Redoble assured the participants that the private sector has always been willing to help the government in reinforcing the country’s cybersecurity.  He hopes that the administration of President Duterte would tap private sector expertise to boost the Philippines’ cyber-capabilities.

In his closing remarks, FSI Director-General Claro S. Cristobal acknowledged the indispensible role of cyberspace in connecting people. He cautioned, however, that cybersecurity vulnerabilities must be identified and remedied in order to make cyberspace a safer place for everyone.

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Main speakers (L to R): PCINSP Cabanlong, Atty. Sy, and Mr. Redoble address the questions during the open forum