NBI assures safeguards against hacking of automated election system

Marje Pelayo   •   April 29, 2019   •   2305

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)

Comelec looks into longer voting hours for 2022 election

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday (January 20) said it is looking into having longer voting hours for the 2022 elections.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, during a Senate hearing, said the agency is mulling over possible election adjustments amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the options include extending the election up to three days while the other option is to have longer voting hours.

Jimenez raised concerns over the having the election last for two to three days.

“Medyo wary kami sa two to three days of election (We are a bit wary of extending the election for two to three days ). Comelec is actually tending towards longer elections hours. Nakikita po natin sa ibang bansa, especially iyong malalaking elections (We saw in other countries, especially those with big elections), they do have elections that last for up to 12 hours,” he said.

“As far as the two to three days of elections, there’s been a lot of concern about that, there’s a lot of worry of what happens at night, I suppose,” he added.

Comelec is also planning to increase polling places to limit the number of voters per precinct and lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, Comelec said they would need bigger venues and additional personnel to ensure health protocols are followed.

Early voting for the vulnerable sectors, which include senior citizens, is also being looked into by Comelec.

Jimenez added they are also looking into bringing ballots to quarantine centers for individuals exhibiting symptoms or are positive for COVID-19 virus.

“There will be more people who will be in quarantine, who will be allowed to vote otherwise. Kaso hindi naman natin sila pwedeng tanggalan ng right to vote just because may sakit sila, (We cannot deprive them of their right to vote just because they are sick),” he said.

Meanwhile, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said there should also be a risk assessment especially for voters who are returning to their respective provinces.

“The requirements of the face masks, face shields can be property requirements that could disenfranchise some vulnerable groups of voters, even the test that are required before you enter into the provinces where you should be voting,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Voter registration to resume on January 4, 2021 – COMELEC

Robie de Guzman   •   December 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The voter registration will resume on January 4, 2021, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) announced on Wednesday.

“If you missed the last day of #VoterReg2020, don’t despair just yet. #VoterRegistration will resume January 4, 2021. #MakeAPlanToRegister then. #MagparehistroKa!” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a tweet.

In an earlier advisory, COMELEC said the last day of voter registration for this year was on December 29, 2020.

The voter registration was also closed during the special non-working days and regular holidays for the month of December.

Voter registration is conducted from Mondays to Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Friday as the designated disinfection day unless the local government unit prescribes a different disinfection day, the advisory read.

The poll body reminded the public that anti-COVID-19 protocols are being strictly imposed in all COMELEC offices.

Duterte nominates Davao del Norte poll exec as COMELEC commissioner

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2020

Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has nominated Davao del Norte Provincial Election Supervisor Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio as commissioner of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte signed Ampoloquio’s nomination on Nov. 24.

“With her vast experience in election matters, Ms. Ampoloquio, would certainly contribute in ensuring our elections would be honest, orderly, peaceful, and credible,” Roque said in a statement.

The poll body has welcomed the nomination of Ampoloquio.

She will fill the position of COMELEC Commissioner Al Parreño who retired last February.

Should the Commission on Appointments approve her nomination, Ampoloquio will serve as Commissioner for a term expiring on February 2, 2027.

Lawyer Ampoloquio first joined COMELEC in 1994 as an emergency laborer then became an election assistant for 12 years.

She also served as an election officer in the First District of Davao City for a decade before she became the Provincial Election Supervisor of Davao del Norte.

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