‘PCOS hackers’ asked P5M per bet


Precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine. FILE PHOTO

High-tech poll fraud was supposedly their specialty.

Two men who claimed they could manipulate the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the May elections at “P5 million per candidate” were arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation Monday night.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said the suspects introduced themselves to prospective clients as employees of either the PCOS supplier Smartmatic or the Department of Justice, and claimed that they had access to the machines to be used by the Commission on Elections.

Hadjie Omar Masiding, who has known addresses in Muludung, Lanao del Sur province and in San Andres, Manila, and Pundatoon Bagul, also of Lanao del Sur, were arrested based on a complaint from Abdulsalam Hadji Harun, a mayoral candidate in Simunul, Tawi-Tawi province.

“They claimed that they could ensure the victory of a candidate by manipulating the PCOS machine, but in reality they were just con artists,” Rojas said.

The pair was entrapped in an operation by the NBI’s Counter Terrorism Unit at Century Park Hotel in Manila after Masiding received an envelope containing marked money from Harun.

Rojas said Harun first reported the suspects’ offer to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, who then referred the case to the NBI.

Quoting the complainant, the NBI chief said the suspects assured Harun of victory for P5 million but asked him for a P2.5-million down payment.

The balance would supposedly be paid “after the proclamation,” he said.

But after some haggling, the suspects agreed to reduce the initial payment to P100,000, not knowing that a trap had been set.

Speaking to reporters at the Comelec main office, Brillantes said he offered the NBI team P100,000 from his personal money for the entrapment operation, P5,000 of which was marked so it could be used as evidence.

The arrests should send a strong message to those who are going around in the provinces and trying to dupe candidates, Brillantes said. “They are telling people that the PCOS can be manipulated, but it cannot,” he stressed.

Masiding and Bagul face charges for estafa and usurpation of authority.—With a report from Matikas Santos, Inquirer.net

Originally posted at 03:48 pm | Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Nothandsome Nottrue

    if politicians are duped into paying those fixers, then well and good. they should not be dealing with those people.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M6UL2UG4OGTMCLSYGB5MVJ7USE InSearchOfTruth

    “They are deceiving people that the PCOS can be manipulated, but it cannot,” he said

    no electronic system is safe.  not one.  otherwise black hats should have been out of business by now.  whoever is the technical adviser of brillantes should be fried in used motor oil.  did they get certification from cissp or even ec council (or other it security companies and certifying bodies) regarding the veracity of their statement that the pcos cannot be manipulated?  so how come it security companies are still trying to come up with new solutions for the global it industry?  plain rubbish!

    • Czar Ryndel

      Di naman talaga na hahack ang PCOS machine. reading machine lang cya. Ang na hahack is ang  CF cards.  tingnan nyo sa youtube, makikita nyo panu gawin.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M6UL2UG4OGTMCLSYGB5MVJ7USE InSearchOfTruth

        technically you can. just alter the internal programing of the pcos machine on how to read the raw data from the cf card.  you can do this from the firmware level of the pcos machine.

        cf cards only contains raw data.  it is the pcos machine that reads the data from the cf cards

  • DannyGane

    Estafa and usurpation of authority??? What a case… Why not hire them as consultants if they could prove they could hack the PCOS machines? Can anybody tell me honestly and possibly with proof if you can find incorruptible COMELEC Commissioners/Officers nowadays.

    • RJ

      I completely disagree! We shouldn’t let “cheating” in any form to pass like that. I would even be glad if COMELEC could file an even heavier case against them. Intentions to cheat should be included in electoral fraud/sabotage law. 

  • Mel

    Why not let them try so you’ll know the PCOS’ vulnerabilities.

  • Guest

    Lest Mr. Brillantes be accused of stonewalling again, why not let them try to hack the PCOS machines on national TV and show the Filipino electorate na hack-proof ang PCOS machines. Kung yung gumawa ng “I love you” virus ni-recruit ng Scotland Yard. Yung naghack ng Sony PS3 at nag-unlock ng iPhone na si George Hotz niligawan ng Sony para maging consultant nila. Bakit hindi gamitin ang galing ng dalawang nagpakilalang hacker?

    Otherwise, tuloy pa ring paghihinalaan si Mr. Brillantes niyan.

  • Yobhtron

    Allow them to prove if they can hack the PCOS machines. If they can hack it then bargain with them on how to protect its vulnerabilities in exchange for lesser sentence. 

  • JasonBieber

    You don’t have to hack the PCOS machines…they will hack themselves. The machines don’t work properly and because of reasons not known to the public the Comelec chose not to do anything about it until now. And actually even now they aren’t dong anything about…their only solution was to threaten to go back to manual counting.

    Election is being anticipated for many reasons including what kinds of problems the machines will be providing.

  • poltergeist_fuhrer

    kung ang fbi sa america pinag hihire ang mga hackers…dito naman satin pinag huhuli at pinagpapaniwala na hindi pwede ma hack ang pcos…HINDI MA HACK ANG PCOS, MR BRILLANTES??FROM A 3RD WORLD COUNTRY???kung ang pentagon nga na hahack which uses sophisticated technology far more advanced than this PCOS….

    tsk tsk tsk….why not test their ablities to know their capabilities…

    • GustoKoHappyKa

      swindler yan hindi hacker hahaha…

    • RJ

      If these people claim that they can intrude the machines without asking for anything in return then let the government use their skills and pay them appropriately. However, they are extorting huge sums of money and for that they are criminally liable. We shouldn’t be protecting criminals! 

  • PikonNaKami

    I will not let a pirated and uncertified ATM count my money.

    All the more I will not let a pirated and uncertified PCOS machine count my votes.

  • Pert Cabatana

    Are these two among those PCOS-hackers that Bishop Pabillo hinted at a few weeks ago? They’re nothing but swindlers. So, once again, I tell the anti-PCOS whiners: stop barking at the wrong tree. Better for us to focus on: voter education to choose the right candidates, eliminate the political dynasties, etc.

  • Pert Cabatana

    sure. let these swindlers demonstrate their so-called expertise to hack. I bet my whole life that they won’t be able to do so. Just to drive home the point: 15 years ago, people didn’t believe that the GSM cellular phone technology is free from cloning (which was rampang in the analog technology). Today, there is still no case of cloning in GSM. 

  • GustoKoHappyKa

    In the end..it’s really not the machine but the users.

    ang gagawin lang talaga ng mga mandaraya dyan kagaya ng ginawa ng mga ampatuan sa lugar nila eh i fill up na kaagad yung mga voting sheet and just feed them at the day of election…

    kahit anong tino ng sistema…open source man yan gamitin or hindi…kung ang mga tao na nagpapatakbo ang may kagustuhan mandaya wala pa din talaga mangyayari…daya pa din…

    there is really no perfect or foolproof system. paano mo mababantayan yung nagbabantay kung yung mismong boss ang may utos na mandaya.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IVLYKVJAHTAJNSYD2POTAV7JFI Ed

    bakit yun tito, kumandidato bilang Sangguniang Bayan, sarili nyang presinto ZERO sya, sa kanilang pamilya, asawa, sya, 5 anak nya nagboto sa kanya hindi nabilang, wala pang mga kapitbahay at kakilala nila…Sa totoo lang daling i HACK ang PCOS machine lalo na yan CF Card, ang dayaan nasa Code, pwede i program kahit nasa ibang lugar ka…tandaan IP address lang yan….may secret group na kasabwat ng SMARTMATIC na gumagawa nito…walang HACKERS na nagpapayad para ipakita galing nila…SWINDLERS yan….

  • RJ

    I can’t believe this! Why would we let alleged criminals to be protected? These men had intentions to sabotage the election not to mention extortion. They should be held liable. 

    Why do we have to think this way? This is the very same thinking that kept criminals, who turned into state witnesses, unaccountable and free! This is the same thinking why corrupt government officials, in low and high ranks, remain free and still capable of corrupting. 

    Please do not let “cheating” thrive in our government and in our community.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IVLYKVJAHTAJNSYD2POTAV7JFI Ed

    Hire Pinoy IT Security Expert…if they can hack pay them, and let them help for security issue….PITSE ngayon ipakita na sa buong mundo kung sino kayo…..kaya nga nanalo si Binay, galing kasabwat nya sa SMARTMATIC na di nabantayaan ni ROxas, pati sa local may mga nagbayad din….hindi lang hacking, mayroon din mga machine na nakatago at yun result yun, sya ang nagbabato dun sa legitimate na PCOS, program lang nla kung ano result…dali lang yan tanong mo sa mga PITSE..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JJ3EVCTQXRCB24IEJDP7G5YTB4 Jerry

    tayo na yata ang isa sa latest na bansa trying its very best to go into computerized voting. Bakit hindi natin magaya ang America? o India na sa laki ng population ay computerized voting na sila, yet, wala yata tayo naririnig na ganito problema! dahil talaga tayo mga manloloko talaga? na instead na tutulong na ma-perfect ang computerized voting, eh ang iniisip kung ano makapagdaya o manloko? bakit ganito tayo?

  • divictes

    We should really have an open mind. Can those two really do what they claim? If not, are they the only ones in this game? Maybe you caught only the ‘messengers/salesmen’. Nadampot nyo lang ang tulak.

  • Edward Bongs

    SANA SUBUKAN nyo din kung kaya nga nila i hack ang system ng smartmatic, pano kung kaya nga nila????? atleast nalaman natin habang maaga, ayoko maging kompyansya sa sinabi ni Comelec chairman kasi hindi nya linya ang computer so i will not take his word of assurance… PANO KUNG MA HACK NGA nila??? atleast mapa stop ang pag gamit nyan kung ganun kasi sigurado hindi lang 2 ang kaya mag hack nyan… sana maging open din po tayo sa possibilities..

  • disqusted0fu

    What if these guys can really hack the PCOS machines? Online hackers apparently can hack government managed websites right? So what if it is indeed possible to hack the PCOS? It is already faulty to begin with since Comelec has neglected the problems encountered using the machines, and this issue just does not make it any better. The votes of the electorates are unsafe and might just get wasted.

  • LabkoPinas

    On the humorous side and on the statement of Brilliantes : I guess he, Brilliantes, want the word out, Only the Comelec approved hackers can do the selling of a positive win in the elections. No one else. Right?

  • jurbinsky77

    Let there be an ad for anyone to hack the PCOS machine. If they can, they should document the vulnerabilities of the system.

  • Rovingmoron

    Con artists no more! Now, they are trapped and put in jail. I’m wondering why these Moros operandi are proflierating in the midst?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3AITTOHVBILS62DE24F3GQW5L4 Masao

    Brillantes shouldn’t say stuff like that. It shows his ignorant views of computer systems. All systems can be manipulated. It’s not a question of whether it can be done. Maraming taong nasisilaw sa pera. Would you really hold on to a job that pays less than 100k php a month kung isalpak na sa mukha mo eh 1 million php. This system is not good for Filipinos dahil ang mga Pinoy ay lahi na talaga ng manloloko at nagpapaloko. Gagawan at gagawan ng paraan yan para malusutan o madaya ang sistema. Talamak na ang kasamaan ng Pinoy dahil ang tama nagiging mali at ang mali nagiging tama. Wala nang morality. Kaya kahit anong sistema pa ang ilagay ganun pa rin ang resulta. Buwaya pa rin ang mamumuno. Buwaya pa rin ang congressman, governor, mayor, brgy captain, pati SK officials. Boga ka kung hindi ka naniniwala. Pati sarili mo niloloko mo na.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3UAABFPUE5ZKBXOAGLWL6POGWU joel genese

    Kung walang physical contact sa PCOS machine, hindi pwedeng ma hack. Ibig sabihin, yung may hawak lang ng data ang maaaring magmanipula ng result. Kaya sila ang dapat bantayan.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JKS7Y3WBUOJPOMTYPCRXSKW7KM Franzeline Perdubal

    Benta ako banig, bente makakatulog. Nakatayo nga lang.

  • DinngMae

    As a former Smartmatic trainer of PCOS machines, I can guarantee that it can not be hacked. By looking at the whole process, however, the results can be manipulated.

    The PCOS machine is only part of a bigger picture. If people are familiar with the whole process, they can say that the machine is not the culprit because the weakest link would be the…

    In fact, with simple creativity, a candidate could thwart his opponent’s big chances of winning inside the latter’s stronghold by a scheme similar to a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS attack). Take note, a DDOS attack is not a form of hacking.

    The tactic, actually, involves a tested method used by dirty politicians in the old days but this is only a part of an elaborate combination to trick the whole process. Thus, there is no truth to some claims that the machine can be hacked because there is even no need for it.

    If a politician would enlist my expertise, I would charge P30 million for a local position because the scheme involves a lot of money that would be given to many people. The suspects who asked for P5 million obviously don’t know what they were talking about.

    In this dirty game it is the incumbent official who still got the edge. So in reality, poll automation did not level the playing field.

  • Ako to

    If its true (according to these two scammers) that the PCOS machines can be manipulated and hacked, I think it would be wise for the COMELEC to make an agreement to this 2 hackers, ask them to demonstrate or show how they can do afterwards comelec can offer them job, I mean use them to the benefits of the comelec…. but if they cannot prove and show how to hack the system, then let them rot to jail forever

  • JasonBieber

    You actually don’t need hackers to screw up the machines because thanks to the Comelec and their ignoring of the problem…the machines will screw up themselves.

    It won’t take high technical specialty…the machines are spitting out the ballots so on their own they will make for a very complicated elections.

    • Yoda_C3PO

      Do you have any evidence that it would? Do you know anything about the Machines Jason? Lame…

      • JasonBieber

        I probably know as much as the Comelec.

        Didn’t you hear about the failed mock elections the other weak?

        The machines were already reported by the providers to have problems scanning the ballot. This was the providers of the machines mind you…that warned the Comelec for a while now. It’s just the Comelec chose to ignore the warning and here we are now with PCOS machine problems.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos