MANILA, Philippines – Senator Alan Cayetano on Tuesday warned that “hackers” claiming to be able to manipulate the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines have been offering their services to candidates in the May 2013 elections.
“May mga lumalapit na at minimum P5 million ang hinihingi at may binebenta na kung ano mang service package sa dayaan (There are people who came forward to offer a minimum P5-million package to rig the polls),” Cayetano told reporters.
“The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should use the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to hunt down these people and protect the integrity of the elections,” he said.
Cayetano also suggested that the Comelec put up a prize for anyone who can demonstrate that he or she can manipulate the machines so that the person can help identify the vulnerabilities of the apparatus.
“Tulad ng sinuggest ko nung 2010, mag-offer ng reward sa pwedeng mag-hack nito. Ano ba naman yung mag-offer sila ng P10 million sa sinong makaka-come forward at ipakita kung kaya nga talaga i-manipulate ang makina,” Cayetano said.
(Like what I’ve suggested in 2010, a reward should be offered to anyone who can show he can hack this. What’s P10 million if it would be proven the machines can be manipulated.)
“Imbes na ibenta ito sa pulitiko o dayaan ang mangyari (Instead of selling this to politicians to commit fraud), we can use these people who claim to know how to manipulate these machines positively,” he said.
Cayetano also hit Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. for his statement saying that they can go back to manual voting if there are so many objections against the use of PCOS machines.
“What do they want? Minor glitches are unavoidable,” Brillantes reportedly said regarding the mock elections last Saturday. “If they want to change the PCOS, let’s just go back to manual because it’s too late for us to order [a new technology],” he said.
Cayetano said that Brillantes’ statement was “almost like blackmail.”
Some of the PCOS machines were unable to accept and read the ballots and the thermal papers did not properly fit the PCOS printer.
According to Cayetano, even before the papers were bid out, the committees of the Senate and the Congress already pointed out that the manufacturers did not have the proper measurements.
“Less than 100 days before elections and they’re still dealing with those problems,” Cayetano said.
Despite the difficulties being encountered, Cayetano said, “For me, I’d still give the benefit of the doubt to Comelec and its PCOS machines. But ang nakakababa ng kompiyansa ay ang resulta ng mock elections (What’s bothering was the result of the mock elections).”
“[On Wednesday the] Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System [will have a meeting] and we’re hoping for definite answers from the Comelec,” he added. Candice Gelani