Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Polls postponement, costly - COMELEC

"Postponing the Barangay and SK polls, doesn't come cheaply."  COMELEC spokesperson Atty. James Jimenez announced in his Facebook page, COMELEC Spox, Wednesday, 20 September 2017.

Jimenez explained, "By the time the Senate voted to pass the postponement measure however, the Commission on Elections had already printed 26,189,091 ballots for the Barangay elections and 1,761,764 ballots for the SK polls."

"Thus, for ballot printing alone, the cost so far has come up to at least 83.86 million pesos," Jimenez revealed.

Atty James Jimenez
Congress has passed a bill postponing the October 2017 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections to May 2018, about a month to go before the actual voting.

This after the House of Representatives adopted Senate Bill 1584 as an amendment to HB No. 6308, since the Senate had adopted the major provisions of the House version.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas moved for the adoption.  Nobody objected, so the motion was carried.

Farinas informed the body that the Committees on Suffrage & Electoral Reforms and Appropriations, respectively, gave their concurrence to the above.

An adoption of the Senate version forestalls the need of a Bicameral Conference Committee to reconcile minor differences of the bills.

Under the bill, barangay officials would be allowed to continue exercising their functions in a holdover capacity.  It does not grant the President the power to appoint barangay officials.

Now that both chambers have approved the proposal, the enrolled copy of the bill will be transmitted to President Duterte for his signature on Wednesday, October 4, 2017.

Once signed, the law will take effect 15 days after it has been published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Senate set to postpone the Barangay and SK polls

After being certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the postponement of the barangay and sangguniang kabataan (SK) elections to May 2018.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

House junks impeach rap vs COMELEC Chair Bautista

Voting 26-2, the House Committee on Justice chaired by Rep. Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro) on Wednesday dismissed the impeachment complaint filed against Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista, after finding it insufficient in form.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

COMELEC sets guidelines on filing of Certificates of Candidacy

MANILA, 14 Sept 2017 - The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) yesterday released the guidelines on the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) in connection with the 23 October 2017 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Resolution No. 10196 - Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy for the 2017 Barangay and SK Elections

Republic of the Philippines
Intramuros, Manila

Guidelines on the Filing of Certificates of Candidacy in Connection with the October 23, 2017 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections
(Promulgation: 13 September 2017)

The Commission on Elections, by virtue of the 1987 Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, Republic Act Nos. 7160, 9164, 9340 and 10742, 10173, 10656, 10923 and other election laws, hereby RESOLVED as it hereby RESOLVES to promulgate the following guidelines on the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) in connection with the October 23, 2017 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

COMELEC to appeal NPC ruling on hacking of poll body's website

MANILA (12 Jan 2017) - The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is set to appeal the decision of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) in connection with the hacking of the former's website in March 2016.

According to COMELEC Chairman Juan Andres Bautista the commission was set to file the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) thru the Solicitor General on Friday, January 13, 2017.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Malacanang tells COMELEC to hold itself accountable for 'Comeleak'

MANILA (7 Jan 2017) - Malacanang on Friday urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to accept accountability for the hack on its database last year that exposed millions of voters to identity theft and fraud.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also called on the COMELEC to release its investigation report on the hack, a day after the National Privacy Commission declared the election watchdog's chair, Andres Bautista, liable for "gross negligence" that left the election body's database highly vulnerable to cyber-attack.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Criminal charges recommended vs COMELEC chairman Bautista

MANILA (5 Jan 2017) - The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Thursday recommended the filing of criminal charges against COMELEC chairman Andres Bautista and the poll body for the theft of millions of voters' personal records in 2016.

Since dubbed "Comeleak," the cybersecurity breach is one of the biggest data heists in history that saw the theft of as many as 55 million personal records from the COMELEC website, according to early estimates.

80-M records hit but no effect on election

However, the exhaustive NPC investigation revealed that the number was closer to 80-million:
  • 75,302,683 records comprising the Precinct Finder web application voter database
  • 1,376,067 records comprising the Post Finder web application voter database
  • 139,301 records comprising the iRehistro registration database
  • 896,992 personal data records comprising the firearms ban database
  • 20,485 records of firearm serial numbers, also from the firearms ban database
  • 1,267 records comprising the COMELEC personnel database
NPC commissioner Raymundo Liboro assured the public that the data breach did not affect the results of the national election.  However, he underscored the gravity of the heist and the long-held need for stricter data privacy measures in the country.

"This is the largest security breach ever of a government institution anywhere in the world," Liboro lamented.

Violation of 2013 Data Privacy Act

In its 35-page decision, the NPC found the COMELEC itself to have been in violation of Sections 11, 20, and 21 of Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

COMELEC chairman Andres Bautista was also found to have violated the same sections, as well as Section 22 in relation to Section 26 of the same Act.

"We are not saying he is guilty, but we have substantial evidence, hence the recommendation to file charges (against Bautista).  The evidence was sufficient to recommend prosecution," said NPC deputy commissioner Atty. Ivy Patdu.

The NPC criticized Bautista for his "lack of appreciation" for the need for stringent cyber-security measures.

"Data privacy is more than the deployment of technical security; it also includes the implementation of physical and organizational measures, as well as regular review, evaluation, and updating of COMELEC's privacy and security policies and practices," the decision read.

'COMELEC was negligent'

Patdu explained that the COMELEC had no security measures in place, so it was only a matter of time before any data on the agency's site was stolen.

She also said that the agency should have implemented stringent end-to-end security beginning from the point of data collection, and not just on the website.

The responsibility for this falls squarely on the COMELEC and its leadership, according to Patdu.

"It was a failure of duty required by law.  It's tantamount to negligence," she said.

Irreversible damage

Patdu also lamented the irreversible damage caused by the hack.

"Our data is out there.  The danger is there, even if it's not immediately apparent right now.  It can be felt years from now.  (That's why) we should urge government to take data protection seriously," Patdu said, warning that the data could be used for malicious purpose at any time.

The decision caps a months-long investigation into the crime.

'Misappreciation' of facts

Reached for his comments, Bautista said the NPC findings were based on "misappreciation" of facts.

"With all due respect to the NPC membership, we believe that the NPC decision was based on misappreciation of several facts, legal points, and material contexts," Bautista said.

He also defended himself after the NPC "conveniently points to the Head of Agency as solely responsible for the data breach."

Bautista said the COMELEC en banc, "currently managed by seven lawyers," including himself, "(relies) on our IT Department for expert advice on website/data security and privacy and IT-related matters."

History of COMELEC heist

On March 27, 2016, a group of hackers gained access to the COMELEC website and defaced the agency's page.  A second group took advantage of the same vulnerability and managed to steal the agency's voter database, which happened to be accessible from the site.

The database was made public, exposing the personal information of millions of Filipino voters to identify thieves and other hackers.

Fear quickly spread that the information could be used to rig the looming presidential elections.  The COMELEC initially downplayed the gravity of the breach, but the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas issued a memorandum warning all banks to be wary of attempts at identity theft.

Within a month, the National Bureau of Investigation's Cybercrime Division arrested two suspected hackers who were alleged directly involved in the breach.

In August, Bautista said that the poll body had committed to working closely with the NPC and the DOST to ensure the future security of COMELEC data.  [TJ Dimacali, GMA News]


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