Pacquiao urges deeper probe in Comelec hacking

Pacquiao urges deeper probe in Comelec hacking

Philippine election hack alleges leaks in voter data stolen from the Comelec’s official website. (Photo: British Broadcasting Corporation)

By Tracy Cabrera

MANILA — Even with the Commission on Election (Comelec) expressing confidence that its servers had not been ‘hacked’ as reported in a newspaper article that said the Comelec website had been breached and important data were stolen, PROMDI presidential aspirant Senator Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao has called on the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation to go on with its probe on the alleged Comelec hacking.

In a statement, Pacquiao opined that “Congress should exercise its oversight powers in relation to Republic Act 8436, or the Automated Election Law,” and the probe on the cyber hacking issue of the Comelec website should include the level of security that poll body uses to secure its network as he noted that this is not the first time that hackers managed to break into its computer system.

Six years ago in March, a group calling themselves ‘Anonymous Philippines’ were allegedly able to hack into the website of the Comelec, defaced it and even left a message calling for tighter security measures on the agency’s vote-counting machines (VCM).

Prior to this, another group called ‘LulSecPilipinas’ also managed to hack into the Comelec’s computer system, stealing close to 55 million voters’ registration information, based on reports.

“This is not the first time that the Comelec has been hacked and this shows very serious security flaws on the poll body’s computer system. Hindi na ito dapat palampasin at kailangang magpaliwanag ang Comelec kung ano ang totoong pangyayari at kung ano ang epekto nito sa darating na halalan,” the Pinoy boxing icon pointed out.

He added that “while Comelec and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) are still investigating the veracity of claims that the Comelec’s servers were hacked, all stakeholders must make sure that the integrity of the May 9 polls will not be compromised.”

Still, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez insisted that “they see no evidence of any sort of data breach . . . and as far as the Comelec is concerned, they are confident that (their computer system) was not hacked.”

“We have confidence in the security of our systems and the procedures we have undertaken since 2016 to ensure our data is hardened and cannot be unlawfully accessed,” Jimenez argued, referring to the hacking of Comelec’s website less than two months before the 2016 polls.

In ending, the Comelec official disclosed that he doubted the newspaper report which alleged that the usernames and personal identification numbers (PINs) of the vote-counting machines were stolen data because these apparently did not yet exist in the poll body’s servers.

“Anytime someone makes a claim like this, no matter how far-fetched they turn out to be, the credibility (of the elections) has been damaged . . . and people are already ‘taking advantage of the reported hacking. It’s the election season and one thing we can assume is whoever did this must have known that this would have a negative effect on the credibility of the elections,” he concluded.

(ai/mtvn)

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