Press Release
March 30, 2009

DFA hacking bolsters fears of automated cheating
Chiz: Comelec's ad hoc approach shows ineptness

Senator Chiz Escudero on Monday said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is showing "signs of ignorance and ineptness" when it changed the rules of the game in midstream and allowed the entry of more bidders for the automation of the 2010 national elections.

He also said that its ad hoc approach could raise doubts about the poll body's fairness and put into question the entire bidding process.

"Who is the Comelec seemingly trying to accommodate in relaxing the rules even before the actual submission of bids?" asked Escudero, who chairs the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system.

"By being presumptuous in saying no one can comply with the existing Terms of Reference (TOR), it shows the absence or lack of preparations of the Comelec," the opposition senator said.

At the same time, Escudero said the recent report on the alleged hacking of computers of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) bolsters fears of automated cheating in the coming elections.

"If we can't even guard the State's closely-guarded secrets at the DFA, what makes us think that we can ensure the credibility of the elections when we automate it? What is our guarantee that it cannot be hacked?" he asked.

"And this is our worst nightmare. I have said it before and I will say it again: we are ill-prepared for automation. Now it could just be a matter of pushing the right buttons in order to win an election," Escudero said.

According to reports, Canadian researchers revealed that the computer network of the DFA has allegedly been infiltrated by a "cyber spy network" based mainly in China.

The Canada-based Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) said the Philippines is just one of the 103 countries affected by the alleged hacking of classified documents from government and private organizations.

He said that the congressional oversight committee will monitor the Comelec's implementation of automated election system every step of the way.

"If the elections fail in 2010, it could very well be our last," Escudero warned.

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