Comelec rejects hacking prize

21 04 2009

By Mayen Jaymalin Updated April 21, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) junked yesterday a proposal to give P100 million in rewards to those who could successfully hack into the automated election system for the 2010 polls.

James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said the poll body welcomes hackers, but offering a reward “is out of the question.”

“The Comelec has already made an announcement that it is set to employ ethical hackers who will be contractually obligated to test the system for weaknesses so we can have it addressed before implementation,” Jimenez said.

He, however, stressed that the poll body is strongly against the P100-million prize money proposed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

“If there is anyone who should be offering a reward, it should be the vendors and not the Comelec,” he said.

Jimenez agreed with Sen. Loren Legarda that there is no man-made system on Earth that is perfect and foolproof.

But he explained that there are enough safeguards in the law and regulations are in place to prevent tampering.

“If there are experts saying that the poll computer system can be hacked, there are also those who say that hacking or tampering can be prevented, so let us give poll automation a try in 2010,” Jimenez said.

He assured voters that the Comelec has enough safeguards to thwart any attempt to undermine the automated 2010 elections.

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Pangilinan warned the Comelec of massive disenfranchisement of first-time voters in the next year’s elections due to lack of information campaign.

Pangilinan said the Comelec has informed the joint congressional oversight committee that only about 10 percent of qualified first-time voters have registered with the agency.

“Voter registration information drive is a must to avoid massive disenfranchisement. The Comelec has six more months to maximize their efforts.”

Pangilinan said the Comelec should go “all-out in information dissemination” to get Filipinos to register for the 2010 elections.

In his privilege speech last week, Pangilinan said there are many alarming reports that first-time voters, especially among the youth, are confused about the processes of getting registered.

“Some precincts ask for NBI clearance, birth certificate and other documentds which are not needed. Because of wrong or incomplete information, a lot of our first-time voters are discouraged from lining up to register,” he said.

After yesterday’s Senate hearing, the Comelec resolved to come up with a media plan within two weeks, coordinating with Pangilinan’s office and concerned advocate groups, including Youth Vote Philippines, First-Time Voters’ Network, National Union of Students of the Philippines, Taskforce 2010, among others.





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