NBI assures safeguards against hacking of automated election system

Marje Pelayo   •   April 29, 2019   •   1863

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime Division assured that the automated election system (AES) in the upcoming May 13 has safeguards against hacking.

The agency said the data in the system is digitally encrypted which cannot be easily accessed.

“It is very safe system, considering na wala talagang actual incident na naimbestigahan ng NBI involving hacking or breach doon sa election system,” explained NBI Cybercrime Division Chief Atty. Vic Lorenzo.

However, Lorenzo said some problems may still be inevitable such as disruptions in the operations of the vote counting machines that’s why the agency has prepared measures for troubleshooting.

There is also NBI personnel deployed in different regions to ensure smooth conduct of the elections in May.

“Kahit na hindi deputized ang NBI ng Comelec, we are mandated to implement the law kapag may hacking incidents, because it’s a criminal offense. It’s a violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Kapag may hacking talaga, we will respond and we will investigate,” Lorenzo added.

To date, the NBI has not received any report of hacking in connection with the AES.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the AES will be independent of any other network connections on the day of the elections from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm and any attempt to manipulate the system will be detected promptly.

“The only time it is connected to the network is when it transmits the election results, ‘yung transmission na ‘yan is a very, very quick process,” Comelec Director James Jimenez said.

“The data pocket being transmitted is encrypted. It’s encrypted with an encryption strength that is basically at par with online financial transactions which means it’s safe as money,” he added.

Despite assurance from the local code reviewers of the security of the AES, Comelec will remain on guard to maintain the integrity of the AES.

Jimenez noted that compared to the previous polls, the participation of tech provider Smartmatic will be lesser this year as they are limited only to providing technical support. – Marje Pelayo (with details from April Cenedoza)

9 of 10 Filipinos favor automated election system — Pulse Asia

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019

Majority of the Filipinos still favor continuing the holding of elections through an automated system in the future.

Based on Pulse Asia’s recent survey conducted last June, nine of 10 or 91% of Filipinos would still prefer having the elections done electronically.

They said an automated election system is faster and the results are immediately released.

“They feel that faster results made the Elections more credible and then it’s also easier compared to let’s say how we use to vote where you have to write the surname of the candidate,” Pulse Asia president Dr. Ronnie Holmes said.

An election watchdog, however, said that since election results were difficult to manipulate under the AES, reports of vote-buying increased.

“Vote buying became more rampant after we automated our Elections because candidates, politicians did not know how to cheat the machines,” said LENTE executive director Atty. Ona Carritos.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) believes that President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts the automated election system despite his earlier pronouncement in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) favoring the termination of the contract with Smartmatic. (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Comelec 1st division cancels Cardema’s nomination as Duterte Youth party rep

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

Ronald Cardema

MANILA, Philippines – The first division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday ordered the cancellation of the nomination of former National Youth Commission (NYC) Ronald Cardema as a representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list in the 18th Congress.

Comelec spokesperson, director James Jimenez announced the decision on his Twitter account.

“The nomination of Respondent, Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema, as the first nominee of Duterte Youth party-list is hereby cancelled,” read the dispositive portion of the poll body’s first division resolution obtained by UNTV News and Rescue.

Two of the three-member division, Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Marlon Caquejo, voted in favor of the petition while Commissioner Al Parreño was on official business.

In a 25-page resolution, the Comelec 1st division said that Cardema committed material misrepresentation on his age when he filed his nomination bid.

The division said Cardema was not eligible to be nominated as Duterte Youth party representative contrary to the declaration he made in his Certificate of Acceptance of Nomination.

He was also aware that he is already 34 years old, and thus “committed a falsity when he misrepresented that he eligible for nomination” despite not possessing the age qualification provided by law for representatives of the youth sector.

Section 9 of Republic Act 7941 or the Partylist Law provides that a nominee of a youth party-list group must be between 25 to 30 years old.

“In view thereof, this Commission finds respondent to have committed material misrepresentation on his qualifications,” the resolution read.

During hearings, the camp of Cardema claimed that Duterte Youth is a multi-sectoral party representing not only the youth sector but also the young professionals and this, he is eligible to be nominated despite his already being 34 years old.

But taking the petition as a whole, the division said, it can be observed that the party intended to limit its representation of professionals only insofar as “young professionals” are concerned. The division noted that Cardema himself admitted to this effect in the pleadings he filed.

“While it may be true that Duterte Youth Party-list represents both the young and young professionals, it is important to consider that the professionals being represented by the party are the “young ones,” who would necessarily belong to the youth sector,” the resolution stated.

“With this in mind, this Commission finds no reason why the age qualification provided by law for nominees of the youth sector should not be applied to the respondent,” the resolution added.

Election Lawyer Emil Marañon, counsel for petitioners against Cardema’s nomination, welcomed the Comelec division’s decision.

“We are happy to announce that with the vote of 2-0, the Comelec First Division has granted our Petition seeking the cancellation of the nomination of Gian Carlo Cardema as the First Nominee of the Duterte Youth Party-List,” Marañon said on a Twitter post.

“Hopefully, this decision will be the first step towards the reform of the party-list system, that is to bring it back to the truly marginalized and underrepresented sectors,” he said in a separate statement.

Voter registration pushes through despite proposal to postpone Brgy & SK Polls

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 2, 2019

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has pushed through with the voters registration despite the proposed postponement of the Barangay and SK elections next year.

According to Comelec Spokesman Dir. James Jimenez, it is better to be prepared in case Congress decides not to postpone the Barangay and SK polls.

Jimenez also said voters can still register even on Saturdays and holidays. The voter registration will run until September 30.

“The commission will open the registration process on Saturdays and even holidays to allow more applicants to be accommodated, especially students and working people who may not have time during weekdays,” Jimenez said.

An estimated two million voters will file their registration in the country.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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