In response to the escalating frequency of cyber attacks, the Philippine military has announced the creation of a dedicated cyber command. General Romeo Brawner, Chief of the Armed Forces, revealed plans to recruit specialised cyber warriors, relaxing traditional recruitment rules to attract online experts. The move comes in the wake of almost daily cyber attacks on several government agencies, including the lower house of Congress, some of which were reportedly orchestrated from abroad.

Brawner emphasised that these cyber warriors would rely on expertise rather than physical strength, acknowledging the evolving nature of warfare in the digital age. While the military has experienced daily cyber attacks, none have been successful so far. While the general did not specify the origins of these attacks, there is a growing concern about cyber threats from abroad, with tensions escalating, particularly in the disputed South China Sea region.

The Philippines has raised concerns about aggressive actions by China, including “dangerous manoeuvres” near disputed shoals. Cyber defence training, conducted jointly with U.S. forces this year, underscores the increasing importance of cyber resilience in national defence strategies.

In addition to establishing the cyber command, the military plans to enhance its surveillance capabilities. As part of a modernisation initiative, General Brawner aims to acquire radar equipment from Japan, reinforcing the country’s ability to monitor territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone. Furthermore, to bolster cybersecurity measures, the military will cease allowing telecommunication companies, including China’s state telecoms giant China Telecom, to build cell towers within military camps.

These strategic moves reflect the Philippine military’s proactive approach to safeguarding national security in an increasingly complex and digitised landscape. The establishment of the cyber command signals a shift in focus, recognising the critical importance of cybersecurity expertise in the face of evolving threats.