What a difference one month makes. In December, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista basked in the glow of an agency that was hailed globally as the Electoral Commission of the Year for the successful May 9, 2016, polls. A month later, he was facing potential criminal prosecution over the March 2016 hacking of the Comelec website that has since been described as one of the worst breaches of a government-controlled database. The National Privacy Commission said on Thursday that Bautista had committed “gross negligence” under the Data Privacy Act of 2012, or Republic Act No. 10173. This came to light following an investigation of a “data breach” from March 20 to 27 last year. The breach exposed almost 77 million voter registration records. Sensitive information, such as voters’ full names, addresses, passport details and birthdays were posted on online platforms and a website that has since been taken down. So notorious was the event that it even has its own name: Comeleak.Full Article: Poll chief liable for ‘Comeleak’ | Inquirer News.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of the Philippines.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced that Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. would have no role in the ongoing diagnostics of the old precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. Comelec chair Andres Bautista said the poll body opted not to adopt the plan of previous election officials to involve Smartmatic in the diagnostics project involving around 81,896 PCOS machines. Bautista explained that the Comelec is not obliged to include the technology provider, which served in that capacity in the last three automated national and local polls. “The PCOS machines came from Smartmatic, but it is already the property of the Comelec and the government of the Philippines,” he said.Full Article: Smartmatic out of PCOS diagnostics–Comelec | Inquirer News.
Philippines: AES hacking issue raised anew and Smartmatic’s demand for P2B payment | The Manila Times
On December 9, 2016, a number of news websites carried the news that President Barack Obama had ordered a full review of possible Russian hacking of the recent United States election. Questioning whether an automated election system (AES) can be hacked or not raises concerns about the integrity of the AES and the credibility of election results that the system generates. The Philippine experience in automating the elections is no different. Concerns were raised on possible vulnerabilities of the AES used in the last three elections. Everything happens inside the machine and those internal mechanisms are shielded from public observation But can the voting machines really be hacked? Just as in the US, none of the vote counting machines (VCMs) used in the Philippine elections is connected to the Internet; they connect to the transmission network only when they are ready to transmit the election returns to the city or municipal canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) and other servers. Hackers would not be able to hack into the VCMs since the transmission network is configured as a virtual private network with the appropriate security measures in place, and the time period to perform hacking activities is very short. Potentially, however, the CCS and other servers are exposed to possible attacks since the CCS and other servers are open for much longer periods while they wait to receive transmissions from the VCMs and CCS.Full Article: AES hacking issue raised anew and Smartmatic’s demand for P2B payment - The Manila Times Online.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday began returning more than 1,000 vote-counting machines (VCM) to its supplier despite opposition from former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. whose poll protest was based partly on allegations that the election results had been manipulated with the use of VCMs. In an urgent manifestation and motion on Oct. 21, Marcos asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to “prohibit the poll body from releasing the subject VCMs” after the Comelec informed Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno it plans to return the machines to Smartmatic-TIM. The Marcos camp also asked the PET to determine whether these VCMs were used in the vice presidential race, which the former senator lost by about 260,000 votes to Leni Robredo, the Liberal Party candidate. On June 29, Marcos filed his electoral protest and asked the PET to stop Robredo’s inauguration. He said votes that were counted for Robredo were fraudulent, contesting the results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and five cities.Full Article: Comelec returns 1,000 VCMs to Smartmatic | INQUIRER.net.
The camp of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday blamed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Bureau of Immigration for the “escape” of a Smartmatic emgineer facing criminal charges in connection with the May 9 elections. The Marcos camp had asked the Comelec to ask the Immigration bureau to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against all personnel of Smartmatic accused of violating the Cybercrime Law but the request was not granted. Smartmatic is the technology provider to last month’s local and national polls. The respondents were charged for their alleged involvement in unauthorized alteration of the script of the transparency server at the height of the transmission of votes just hours after voting closed.Full Article: Comelec hit for escape of Smartmatic engineer | The Manila Times Online.
Lawyers for Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. have questioned the unusually high number of “undervotes” in the vice presidential race as shown in Certificates of Canvass (COCs) opened on Wednesday, the first day of the official tally by Congress. “We have accounted ‘undervotes’ Your Honor, that’s totaling the votes cast for the Vice President vis-à-vis the votes cast by the voters, it would appear that such number was discovered from the COC Your Honor that totals 623,174,” one of the lawyers, George Garcia, said on Thursday. The discovery confirmed Marcos’ earlier complaint that 3.3 million “undervotes” were discovered in their own quick count, Garcia added. Because of questions involving the “undervotes,” only 45 of the 48 opened COC were officially included in the canvass.Full Article: Marcos questions high number of ‘undervotes’ | The Manila Times Online.
Whatever the outcome of Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s investigation on the unauthorized changes made by Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic) in the transparency server used by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), it is undeniable that the Venezuelan-owned company committed a serious violation not only of its supply contract but also of the country’s electoral laws. If only to show that our laws and rules are not to be trifled with, the harshest penalty possible ought to be imposed on Smartmatic – perpetual disqualification from any Philippine elections. After all, there are many (and bigger) providers of electronic voting systems in the world other than Smartmatic. Comelec chairman Andy Bautista’s explanation (surprisingly echoing Smartmatic’s excuse for lack of a better alibi) that the correction of the computer script of the Comelec transparency server was merely a “cosmetic change” and did not affect the poll results, is at best ill-informed and speculative, and at worst misleading. Well-intentioned or not, the supposedly “minor” change does not justify Smartmatic tampering with the electronic canvassing system, more so while the bulk of the voting results were being transmitted to the Comelec servers.Full Article: Is Smartmatic selling more than just VCMs? | The Manila Times Online.
The cascade of votes for Rep. Leni Robredo that allowed her to obliterate the almost one million lead of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on May 10 looked strange and the “movement of the votes” appeared to have been manipulated, a statistics and political science analyst said on Tuesday. Antonio Contreras, Political Science professor at De La Salle University who also previously taught quantitative analysis at another university, said it was statistically impossible for Robredo to overtake Marcos in the race with 80 percent of the returns already counted.
Marcos was leading the count on the night of May 9 but his numbers and those for his closest rival Robredo were reversed in the early hours of May 10.
Top officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Comelec service provider Smartmatic are facing election sabotage charges before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for allegedly changing the computer script (hash code) or program which may have altered the counting of the votes. Most of the respondents were not named in the 27-page complaint except for Henrieta de Villa of PPCRV and Marlon Garcia Smartmatic, the Venezuelan IT expert who allegedly changed the script together with unnamed Comelec technicians to accommodate the letter “ñ.” The complaint was filed jointly by the Mata sa Balota Movement (MBM)) and the Coalition of Clean Air Act of the Philippines which asked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to look into the hash code switch which they claimed seriously affected the integrity of the counting of the votes in the May 9 national and local elections.Full Article: Comelec, PPCRV, Smartmatic officials face election sabotage charges | mb.com.ph | Philippine News.
A controversial political leader, Rodrigo Duterte, has won the recently held presidential elections in The Philippines. He had undertaken an extremely inflammatory campaign, propagating draconian measures for handling issues related to drugs and crime. This 71-year-old leader, who has been a long-time mayor of the southern city of Davao, had used highly filthy and cuss-filled language during the election campaign. Although he spoke against laws on human rights and abused the Pope, he still won with a large popular support. Because of Duterte’s maverick approach and obvious comparisons with the US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, media attention during this election remained focused more on various theatrics. Now, after the heat and dust of the election is over, it is important to analyse a few issues that did not receive adequate attention during the campaign phase, but which are vital not only from the perspective of The Philippines but globally as well. One such issue is cyber-attack on the database of The Philippines Election Commission. This attack is considered as the worst ever government data breach anywhere in the world.Full Article: Cyber Menace And Elections In The Philippines – Analysis – Eurasia Review.
Philippines: Citing irregularities in voting machines’ memory cards, Lim eyes poll protest | Inquirer
Alleging that there were irregularities in the conduct of the local elections, the camp of former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim will file a protest on Friday. Renato dela Cruz, Lim’s lawyer, said that their petition would seek to annul the proclamation of incumbent Mayor Joseph Estrada who was earlier declared the winner in the mayoralty race. In a phone interview, Dela Cruz said one of things they would cite in their petition was the “irregular use of SD cards” which he claimed were “not genuine.” Asked to elaborate, he declined, saying they were still “evaluating” their evidence.Full Article: Citing irregularities in voting machines’ memory cards, Lim eyes poll protest | Inquirer News.
The camp of vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. played down yesterday the lead of his rival Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo as the senator expressed confidence that he would win. Marcos also urged the Comelec to terminate the ongoing unofficial count being conducted by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) because it has reached the 90-percent mark. Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, campaign adviser of Marcos, said the so-called updates in the unofficial count run counter to exit polls and their own internal survey. “It is unfortunate that while the whole country was asleep the glitch in the canvassing occurred and from then on we saw a progression of so-called ‘updates’ that showed an alarming and suspicious trend reducing our lead.”Full Article: Bongbong unfazed, seeks halt to unofficial count | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com.
Rodrigo Duterte, whose outspoken commentary — including joking about the rape of a missionary — drew international attention to the Philippines’ national elections, appeared poised to win his country’s presidency Monday after a top rival conceded. Grace Poe made the concession Monday night, according to CNN Philippines, even though formal results will not be announced until June. Early exit polls had shown Duterte, the mayor of Davao City, leading with 38.92% of the votes counted, compared with Poe’s 22.14%, according to the Commission on Elections. “I congratulate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and I promise to join in the healing of our nation and to unify our countrymen for our country’s progress,” Poe said, according to CNN Philippines. Poe is a popular senator who was challenged over her citizenship.Full Article: Duterte rival concedes in Philippines elections - CNN.com.
Voting for a new Philippine president began on Monday with a brash challenger to the political establishment the favorite to win after campaigning on pledges to crush crime and corruption. Many voters in Manila had to line up in blazing sunshine for more than an hour to cast their votes, and there were several reports of electronic voting machine hitches, which could dash the election commission’s hope to declare a victor in 24 hours. The election campaign exposed widespread disgust with the Southeast Asian country’s ruling elite for failing to tackle poverty and inequality despite years of robust economic growth. Tapping into that sentiment, Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao, emerged as the front runner by brazenly defying political tradition, much as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has done in the United States.Full Article: Trump-like mayor favored as Philippines votes for new president | Reuters.
Voting has begun in the Philippines in a general election that opinion surveys suggest will see a tough-taking mayor, dubbed “the Punisher” for his lax attitude to extrajudicial killings, clinch the presidency. Rodrigo Duterte, a 71-year-old ex-prosecutor, has run an obscenity-filled campaign in which he has boasted about Viagra-fuelled affairs and joked about raping a missionary. Rights groups allege Duterte allowed death squads to kill more than 1,000 suspected criminals during his two decades as mayor of Davao city, an accusation he has at times denied and at other times bragged about. Philippines’ ‘Duterte Harry’: the would-be president accused of using vigilante squads The political establishment has warned that years of solid economic growth is threatened and foreign governments have looked on with trepidation as the country is a key regional player in the South China Sea dispute with Beijing. The front-page headline of the Philippine Star newspaper on Monday summed up the anxiety: “It’s judgment day”.Full Article: Philippines election: voters go to polls as frontrunner pledges to kill criminals | World news | The Guardian.
This year will see the Philippines’ third automated polls – the first one was the elections in 2010. But though automation means more security in vote-counting and faster results, it cannot prevent irregularities such as vote-buying – an acknowledged fact in a country where 60 per cent of the people live below the poverty line. Marcelino Farjardo, a 58-year-old tricycle driver, earns around 300 to 500 pesos (US$6-10) a day. He supplements this income with earnings from his family-run internet shop which earns him an additional US$15-21 a week. However, with five children to feed life is still a struggle, so when politicians make the rounds in the run-up to elections offering gifts, holidays and money in exchange for a vote, it can be hard to resist. “If it will help my people, why not? … Tricycle drivers are poor too,” he said.Full Article: Vote-buying still a concern in the Philippines as polls approach - Channel NewsAsia.
Philippines: National Bureau of Investigation says it’s nearly Impossible for hackers to alter poll results–NBI | Inquirer
NEARLY impossible. This was how the head of the National Bureau of Investigation cybercrime division replied to the question of whether or not it was possible for hackers to alter the results of the May 9 national elections. “It’s really difficult and nearly impossible to influence the results of the elections through hacking,” NBI head agent Ronald Aguto told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday. Several sectors have expressed concerns about the integrity of the election results after hackers successfully broke into the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) voters database. The hackers then uploaded at least 55 million voter’s personal details on the Internet. Personal details such as voters’ full names, birth dates, addresses, registration details such as precinct numbers and voter identification numbers were made public on the net. Also, individual information such as height, weight and passport number, fingerprint and topography were also included.Full Article: Impossible for hackers to alter poll results–NBI | Inquirer News.
Philippines: Armed Forces now on red alert, launches election monitoring center for May 9 polls | CNN
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now on red alert all throughout the country in preparation for the elections on Monday (May 9). As part of its heightened alert status, the AFP launched its National Election Monitoring Center (NEMC) in Camp Aquinaldo on Tuesday (May 3). The NEMC will be the monitoring center of the AFP for all its operations in the upcoming national and local polls. It shall keep an eye on election preparations, the actual polls and the canvassing process, as well as cases of election-related violence (ERV) in hotspot areas.Full Article: AFP now on red alert, launches election monitoring center for May 9 polls - CNN Philippines.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), via a 4-3 vote, has scrapped the holding of elections in malls because of legal problems that may later put the poll body in a bind. “It will no longer push through,” Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said on Wednesday. “It’s a pity, it’s disturbing. I apologize to our voters.” The commission arrived at the decision after a marathon en banc session on Tuesday. It reversed its earlier 6-1 ruling in favor of mall voting.
The legal issues on mall voting were raised by former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal in a letter to Bautista. Larrazabal pointed out that the Comelec failed to comply with the three basic requirements set by the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) before some clustered precincts can be legally transferred to shopping malls.
The personal information of more than 50 million Filipinos has been exposed in a breach of the Philippine electoral commission. According to security researchers at Trend Micro, the hack contains a huge amount of very sensitive personal data, including the fingerprints of 15.8 million individuals and passport numbers and expiry dates of 1.3 million overseas voters. The website of the Commission on Elections, Comelec, was initially hacked on March 27, by a group identifying itself as Anonymous Philippines, the local fork of the wider hacker collective. The homepage was defaced with a message accusing Comelec of not doing enough to ensure the security of voting machines used in the country’s upcoming election.Full Article: Philippine electoral records breached in 'largest ever' government hack | Technology | The Guardian.