2 senators want 3rd party audit on alleged Comelec hacking

Senate of the Philippines (File photo)

MANILA – Two senators who are running for president asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow an independent third party to look into the alleged online attack of its system.

In separate statements Tuesday, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson said the poll body must consider an audit into the extent of the alleged hacking.

“The Comelec should clarify the veracity of the hacking incident and be forthright with its findings. More importantly, it should be open to letting experts and related stakeholders help strengthen the security system, including our cybersecurity experts and those of other aspirants. Only through transparency and accountability can we guarantee the integrity of the upcoming elections,” Lacson said.

Pacquiao added the Comelec should allow political parties to conduct an independent investigation while the legislative can exercise its oversight powers to look into the issue.

“Congress should exercise its oversight powers in relation to Republic Act 8436 or the Automated Election Law. This is not the first time that the Comelec has been hacked and this shows very serious security flaws on the poll body’s computer system,” Pacquiao said.

Hindi na ito dapat palampasin at kailangang magpaliwanag ang Comelec kung ano ang totoong pangyayari at kung ano ang epekto nito sa darating na halalan. Kailangan din nating malaman kung may nakahandang plano ang Comelec kung sakaling nakompromiso ang ating automated polling system (This should not be ignored and its impact on the upcoming elections must be revealed. We must also find out if Comelec has a contingency plan),” he added.

Prior to the 2016 elections, the NBI arrested 20-year-old Paul Loui Biteng and 23-year-old Joenel de Asis for hacking the poll body’s website.

Biteng was cleared of by a Manila Regional Trial Court of criminal liability in 2020 as “there is no direct evidence categorically linking him as the perpetrator for the crimes charged”.

While only Comelec and the Department of Information and Communications Technology can officially confirm or deny if such…