Bishop’s plea to Senate: Probe cyberhacking of church website
KIDAPAWAN CITY — Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of the Kidapawan Diocese is appealing to the Senate to investigate the massive hacking of web pages and personal social media accounts of priests and other government and academic institutions across the country.
The prelate said the Kidapawan diocese’s website and social media accounts of several religious personalities, including himself, in Cotabato were hacked on August 20 and were still unrecovered as of Saturday, August 26.
Bagaforo reported that a check on the transparency section of the Kidapawan diocese’s Facebook account on Saturday morning indicated that the page is being managed from Pakistan.
The Kidapawan diocese’s Facebook page has been a source of religious news and information as well as live novena and Holy Masses. The bishop said hackers had since used these to undertake unauthorized solicitation of financial assistance from parishioners and even personal friends of the prelate here and abroad.
Bagaforo said he would personally meet Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. to help him convince the Senate to conduct the investigation in aid of legislation to shed light on hacking issues in the country.
The bishop believed that hacking became a worldwide phenomenon and should be given immediate solution as it will cause embarrassment not only to the government but also to all sectors in society, including the church when their platforms are seized and controlled by hackers.
The investigation will also answer doubts on whether the Department of Information and Communications Technology is capable of handling and solving cyberhacking and online scams, Bagaforo added.
He also recommended inviting the presence of telecommunication firms and social media firm Meta, which runs Facebook, to shed light on the phenomenon that largely happens on their platform.
Bagaforo said the unauthorized solicitation were sent to parishioners and his friends through the Messenger app. Consequently, he said, parishioners and friends from abroad called to inform him they sent money to the supposed bank account of the diocese.
“It is embarrassing. We need to stop this. I hope the Senate will investigate,” the prelate told dxND Radyo Bida in Kidapawan City.
Though he did not disclose the exact amount carted away by the scammers, he simply said it is a big amount.
As the problem still persisted, Bagaforo again called on parishioners not to share and to instead delete messages spread by the hackers of the diocese’s Facebook account, and to unfollow the social media page to prevent the proliferation of lewd photos posted in their profiles.
Earlier, the social media accounts of the Department of Education (DepEd) Cotabato Division and the page of Catholic-owned radio station dxND in Kidapawan were also attacked by hackers. Both pages remain in hackers’ control as of Wednesday, August 23.
Aside from being Kidapawan bishop, Bagaforo is also the current president of the Caritas Pilipinas of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines. WILLIAMOR A. MAGBANUA