With only a few weeks before the much-awaited national election, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it has alerted its anti-cybercrime group to provide maximum cyber-security measures for the software and vote-counting machines that would be used for the national and local elections on May 9.
This security measures were made following the recent cyber hacking attacks on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) website last March.
The group Anonymous Philippines, which has hacked other government websites in the past, is known to be the one behind the hacking of COMELEC website.
Then, shortly after Anonymous Philippines defaced the COMELEC website, another group accessed the data of the poll body’s site, posting election-related data online.
The hacking attacks raised concerns about the security of the voting process during the automated elections, but the COMELEC assured the public that it would be able to safeguard their votes.
“From what I’ve gathered, the system that’s going to be used, to be deployed by COMELEC, is hack-proof,” PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said.
“I heard that this technology was used in other countries and even a state-run political exercise wasn’t able to tamper with this technology. But we have alerted our ACG for this eventuality. We will partner with other government agencies for the inclusion of cyber-security as part of our preparations.”
Meanwhile, COMELEC Commissioner Luie Guia stressed the strength of today’s voting process and ensured the public of the maximum-security system of the coming elections.
“It’s a whole process. There’s a procedure to come up with the results in any case because you have paper ballots, you have picture images of the ballot, you have election returns. In other words, you have multiple copies of election results, and it’s very hard for anyone to change the results to game the system,” the Commissioner said in a Rappler report.
Guia added that the COMELEC has also sought the help of the DOST (Department of Science and Technology) and the National Bureau of Investigation to come up with mitigating and strength security measures.
PNP and AFP collaboration
Last April 7, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) signed the joint operational guidelines to safeguard the results of the May 9 elections.
The guidelines include provisions on peace and order and security concerns, the activation of a Joint Security Control Center, internal security and counter-terrorism operations, joint checkpoints, and the organization of a joint task group to dismantle identified private armed groups.
Marquez said that the potency of the strong partnership between the PNP and AFP have been proven for a long time.
“With the joint letter directive to guide our security forces on the ground, we will now move forward with our security operations with greater efficiency. We will not allow lawless elements to destroy the sanctity of the ballot,” Marquez said after the signing of the guidelines.
He also added that the performance of the PNP in securing all election-related activities will not be affected despite the lack of budget provided by the COMELEC.
Previous report shows that PNP has received only PhP462 million out of the PhP800 million budget it requested from the elections body.
According to a Rappler report, Guia cited “budgetary constraints” as to why the full amount has not yet been released, but promised that the COMELEC will study the PNP’s request.
By VIA BAROMA