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Comelec asserts its system was not hacked after statements from Sotto, Imee alleging a security breach

By NICK GARCIA Published Mar 17, 2022 7:23 pm

The Commission on Elections has categorically denied that its IT infrastructure was hacked after some lawmakers said that a computer owned by an employee of Smartmatic has been compromised.

Senate President Tito Sotto told reporters that a Smartmatic employee's laptop containing confidential information has been allegedly compromised, as a "certain group" supposedly copied its data after being brought out. Smartmatic bagged the Comelec contract for the provision of the automated vote-counting software and machines for the May 9 polls,

“I think this is part of what we can divulge. Merong empleyado ang Smartmatic, nilabas iyong laptop at hinayaang, well not hack, but hinayaang makopya ng a certain group,” Sotto told reporters.

Sen. Imee Marcos, who chairs the Senate electoral reforms committee, told reporters that while the alleged incident "may not be technically hacking," they felt that "it compromises the processes and operations of Smartmatic in very serious ways."

"Sabi nila, mga luma na raw iyon (data), 2016, pero di natin alam," said Marcos, whose brother Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is running for president and is leading the election surveys. "Masyadong personal iyong ibang detalye, nakakanerbiyos...the wealth of detail and wealth of knowledge is a little bit alarming."

Senators have discussed the alleged breach in an executive session with Comelec officials, with Sen. Marcos saying that Smartmatic is already investigating the matter.

In reaction, Comelec denied the allegations of a supposed breach in a press conference.

"Ito na lang para mas maliwanag: The Comelec's system was not hacked. Pure and simple," Commissioner George Garcia said. "I have to tell you, eye to eye, Comelec was never and was not hacked."

Comelec assured the public that all of its systems are "safe," noting that it's been exercising transparency and accountability leading to the elections.

On the alleged breach in its servers that compromised sensitive voter data last January, the poll body said the National Bureau of Investigation has yet to wrap up its findings.

Smartmatic spokesman Christopher Ocampo also denied the most recent data breach claims “that could possibly affect the 2022 national and local elections."

“Gusto lamang po naming klaruhin na hindi po iyon totoo,” Ocampo told reporters. “Wala pong katotohanan," as he also pertained to the January hacking reports.

"Ang Smartmatic po, to be very clear, hindi po involved sa processing or storing ng personal data of any voter for the 2022 elections," he said, adding that the company's mere mandate is to provide the automated election system and nothing more.

Smartmatic's reputation has since been questioned, particularly because of the so-called "seven-hour glitch" in the 2019 midterm elections in which there had been delays in the transmission of results.