Comelec looking for hackers to test election system

MANILA, Philippines – Unfazed by persistent criticisms of flaws in the system it is putting in place for the May elections, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes on Wednesday said the poll body is looking for computer hackers that can challenge the integrity of the automated election system.

“We are looking (for a computer hacker) pero wala pa kaming nakikita eh. Kasi wala naman makaka-hack ng system at this point in time,” Brillantes said in an interview.

Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the oversight committee on automated elections, asked Brillantes to allot P5 million to P10 million as a reward to any hacker that can break into the system.

“If there is someone who can hack (the system) dapat matagal nang napasok yan [that entity should have succeeded a long time ago],” Brillantes added, referring to the automated election system that was first used nationwide in the 2010 general polls.

However, Cayetano argued that no hacker has yet come out openly to take on the challenge because there was no “legal authority” plus reward from the poll body to challenge the integrity of the automated election system.

“No one has stepped forward because, first, there’s no reward; and second, they are afraid to be charged criminally. If they (hackers) were ‘authorized’ by the poll body, maybe they will try to challenge the integrity of the system,” Cayetano said.

In response, Brillantes assured the Senate panel that the preparation for an automated system is proceeding well to ensure credible, honest and clean elections in May.

With this, Cayetano, who has been critical of the Comelec’s handling of the preparations and its arrangement with its main supplier Smartmatic, urged Comelec to initiate another mock poll in order to ensure what Brillantes is trumpeting that the automated election is in the right direction for credible, honest and clean elections.

Cayetano, along with Rep. Neri Colmenares, said the Comelec should initiate another mock poll 45 days before the actual election so if there are more glitches to come out, the poll body will have enough time to fix the problem.

However, Brillantes said the Comelec is still studying the proposal to undertake another mock poll, considering the funds needed for such.

By: Karl John Reyes, InterAksyon.com

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