Philippines to recruit ‘cyber warriors’ for online defense

October 19, 2023 - 5:02 PM
Romeo Brawner and honor guards
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. walks past honor guards during the arrival ceremony at Western Command, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, August 10, 2023. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo)

MANILA — The Philippine military is creating a cyber command to improve defenses against almost daily cyber attacks and will relax recruitment rules to ensure it can attract online experts, the chief of the armed forces said on Thursday.

Several government agencies, including the lower house of Congress, have recently reported cyber attacks and the chief of the armed forces said some of the almost daily attacks on the military came from abroad.

“Instead of recruiting soldiers for infantry battalions, this time we will recruit cyber warriors,” General Romeo Brawner told reporters.

“There is this general realization that this new breed of warriors does not have to be muscle strong.”

“We have experienced this almost every day,” Brawner said, of the attacks, though adding none had been successful.

“We believe some of the attacks are foreign.”

Brawner did not say from where he believed the attacks were coming from but tension with China has been high in recent months, largely over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has complained about what it calls aggressive Chinese action including “dangerous maneuvers” by its coastguard and navy, especially near a disputed shoal.

RELATED: Philippines denounces China for ‘dangerous and offensive’ actions in South China Sea

China has rejected the complaints saying its vessels operate lawfully in its waters.

Cyber defense training was part joint exercises this year with U.S. forces, Brawner said, highlighting the growing importance of cyber resilience in defense strategy.

Brawner also said the military would stop letting telecommunication companies build cell towers in military camps. Bases have been hosting installations operated by several mobile phone firms, including China’s state telecoms giant China Telecom.

Brawner also said that as part of a modernization drive, he was hoping to get radar equipment from Japan to boost surveillance of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone.

— Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Robert Birsel