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‘Despite denials, Smartmatic had serious security breach’

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
âDespite denials, Smartmatic had serious security breachâ

MANILA, Philippines — Despite denials, there had been a “very serious” security breach in the operations of Smartmatic, the provider of election software to be used in the May 9 polls, senators said after an executive session of the Senate committee on electoral reforms yesterday.

“While it is being investigated further by both the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), the CICC (Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center), National Privacy Commission and other groups, we have to admit that a very serious breach occurred,” Sen. Imee Marcos said after the executive session.

“It may not be technically hacking. However, we feel that it compromises the process and operations of Smartmatic very seriously,” Marcos stressed.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed concerns that the election gatekeepers lacked in ensuring the integrity of the May 9 elections.

“I am concerned that our election gatekeepers lacked in ensuring the integrity of the May 9 elections. The people’s right to an honest and credible election is enshrined in our Constitution and the Comelec is tasked to ensure that the results of the elections are not tainted with doubt and especially, that the conduct of the electoral exercise was not attended by anomalies,” Sotto said.

In response, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured the Filipino people that all systems used in the May 9 elections are safe and accurate.

“We will have to ensure and assure that our electorate, our people, (that) all our systems will be safe, will be accurate. All our, the entire process, even the delivery of the election paraphernalia, up to the date of proclamation,” Commissioner George Garcia said yesterday.

As far as the security breach issue is concerned, Garcia said they have already contacted the NBI and the Senate electoral reform panel to provide them the necessary reports to ensure that the incident will be addressed.

For his part, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez was confident that no hacking incident occurred in the Comelec. “And therefore, we feel there will be no impact of that alleged hacking on the election results for 2022. Again, if the committee releases something, then that’s a new topic,” Jimenez told reporters.

All set

Commissioner Garcia yesterday said that everything is now being prepared at the Sofitel tents where the presidential debate will be held on Saturday, and the vice presidential debate on Sunday.

Of the presidential hopefuls, nine out of 10 have confirmed their attendance: former Malacañang spokesman Ernie Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, Sen. Ping Lacson, Norberto Gonzales, Faisal Mangondato, Jose Montemayor Jr., Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Vice President Leni Robredo. Only former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has not confirmed yet.

Vice presidential candidates Walden Bello, Rizalito David, Manny Lopez, Dr. Willie Ong, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Carlos Serapio and Sotto have also confirmed their attendance as of March 13.

The Comelec said Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza has formally declined to attend the debate for medical reasons while Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has yet to confirm.

On his official Twitter account, Jimenez said all channels have committed to air the debates that will be streamed simultaneously on their respective Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.

After the March 19 and 20 presidential and vice presidential debates, Jimenez said that another set of presidential debates will be held on April 3 while town hall interviews for presidential and vice presidential candidates are set for April 23 and 24.

Candidates who will not attend would lose the privilege of using the Comelec’s e-rallies until the last day of the campaign period. –  Robertzon Ramirez

SMARTMATIC

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