MANILA (UPDATE) — A TikTok user is being investigated after posting a comment on the video-sharing app allegedly threatening to assassinate presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the Department of Justice said.
Screengrabs showed the TikTok user saying, “We are meeting everyday to plan for BBM’s assassination. Get ready.”
The incident reached the DOJ Cybercrime Division, which said it treated the comment as a “serious threat” and asked TikTok to conduct an investigation.
“We made an initial investigation on the matter and referred the same to the NBI-CCD (National Bureau of Investigation Cybercrime Division) and PNP-ACG (Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group) for further investigation. We also emailed the TikTok Law Enforcement Outreach,” said Charito Zamora, officer in charge of trhe DOJ Cybercrime Division.
“We requested the data related to the subject account preserved pending investigation by the law enforcement agents concerned,” she added.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also confirmed Zamora’s statements and asked the NBI to look into the matter.
“The OOC has already requested the preservation of the suspect account. The DOJ, on the other hand, has directed the NBI to validate the tip. Pending verification, we are keeping other details confidential for security reasons,” he said in a text message.
Zamora said they have no information yet “if there are particular persons already being investigated by our law enforcement agents or the owners of the subject accounts had been identified yet.”
But she said they are taking the threat seriously, “as a matter of procedure.”
“The threat of assassination against anyone, under the law, is considered grave threats. Thus, our referral to the law enforcement agents,” she said.
“If a bomb joke is actionable, so is a threat of assassination, whether true or not,” Guevarra added.
The justice chief said they have not received similar information regarding personal threats against other aspirants for top national elective positions.
Marcos' chief of staff, Vic Rodriguez, said the aspirant will continue with his campaign activities despite the threat.
“While [the] report on the assassination plot is concerning, we are not cowered by such threat. Bongbong shall continue to personally deliver his message around the country with firm resolve to unify the nation,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, TikTok Philippines said the account of the said user has already been permanently banned, and it will be cooperating with the NBI on the issue.
"The promotion of violence has absolutely no place on our platform. The user's account has been permanently banned and we are fully cooperating with the National Bureau of Investigation in their investigations," the social media platform said.
Earlier this week, Marcos, son and namesake of the former dictator, missed some interviews and online events related to his presidential bid on May 9.
He has topped the latest survey on the preferred successor of President Rodrigo Duterte, but is facing disqualification cases at the Commission on Elections over his 1995 tax evasion conviction.
In May 2020, A public school teacher was arrested over his Facebook post, wherein he offered a P50-million reward in exchange for killing President Rodrigo Duterte.
- with a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News