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Philippine President Vows to Accelerate Cybersecurity Legislation

Manila, Philippines – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has committed to expediting the passage of key bills aimed at bolstering the nation’s cybersecurity. This pledge was made following a request from the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) to prioritize three pending Senate bills as part of the Philippine Digital Transformation Framework, according to Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil.

During a meeting with the PSAC Digital Infrastructure Group at Malacañan Palace in Manila, President Marcos assured that he would examine the proposed legislation and explore ways to facilitate their swift movement through Congress. Garafil noted that the three bills being advocated by PSAC include Senate Bill (SB) 1365 or the proposed Cybersecurity Act, SB 2039 or the proposed Anti-Mule Act, and SBs 2150 and 2385 or the proposed Online Site Blocking Act.

The proposed Cybersecurity Act focuses on institutionalizing the National Cybersecurity Inter-Agency Committee to enhance the country’s cybersecurity resilience and posture. The Anti-Mule Act aims to combat fraudulent activities involving financial accounts, while the Online Site Blocking Act seeks to block websites showing pirated content to protect the creative industry and consumers from online content piracy.

Data from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) indicates that the Philippines ranks fourth globally in the number of cyberattacks, with 3,000 incidents reported from 2020 to 2022. Approximately half of these attacks targeted government entities. A report by Cisco Systems Inc. suggests that around 85 percent of companies in the Philippines anticipate cybersecurity attacks could disrupt their operations within the next two years.

PSAC Proposes Executive Order on Information Security

In the same meeting, PSAC recommended that President Marcos issue an Executive Order (EO) establishing minimum information security standards for critical information infrastructure, aligning with the National Cybersecurity Plan. This strategic move is intended to enhance the resilience of vital systems against cyber intrusions.

Critical Information Infrastructure, accounting for PHP2.4 trillion in 2022, provides essential services across sectors such as water, government, transportation, energy, banking, and telecommunications. A 2021 DICT report highlighted the significant impact of cybersecurity breaches, including private data theft and disruptions in public services.

PSAC also expressed support for the DICT’s plan to form a multi-sectoral technical working group to combat fraud and financial cyber threats. This initiative will focus on creating a Mobile Device Database and an Anti-Financial Crimes Command Center.

Furthermore, PSAC Digital Infrastructure endorsed the upcoming Data Unity Summit and invited President Marcos to deliver the keynote address. The PSAC reaffirmed its commitment to work closely with the government and stakeholders to effectively implement its recommendations and elevate the country’s cybersecurity defenses against evolving threats.