MANILA, Philippines–Authorities warned the public Thursday that using signal jammers on the day of the midterm elections next month is a criminal offense and punishable with at least eight years of imprisonment.
Speaking to reporters in a press conference at Camp Crame, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the use of signal jammers near polling centers during the automated elections in May can “delay” the transmission of vote returns.
“Hindi naman sa hindi makukuha, pero made-delay (It’s not that the results would not be transmitted… it might be delayed),” Brillantes said, noting that the act of “interfering” with the transmission process of votes is a “criminal offense” punishable with eight to 12 years of imprisonment.
Brillantes said they target to finish in 48 hours in the local level. But if jammers would strike, the transmission will be delayed and the public would question the credibility of the results.
“We want to make sure that the credibility of the elections is [preserved], and this interference in the transmission will definitely affect the credibility. So, we want to ensure that transmission [of the results] will not be affected,” the Comelec chairman said.
But if in any case delays arise during the transmission process, Brillantes assured the public that contingency plans have been put in place.
“Imbes na electronic, itatakbo na lang ang CF card, at maski na makuha CF card . . . we have 30 copies na nakakalat, so hindi naman mawawala ang resulta. Matatagalan lang nang konti,” adding that the delay may be a day or two.
(CF cards would be transported and even if these would be lost, we have 30 copies so we will still get the results. The only problem is it would be slightly delayed.)
He said this serves as warning for those thinking of using signal jammers.
For his part, National Telecommunications Commission Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said that these gadgets are considered “smuggled” as NTC has not issued any permit to sell jammers in the country.
But apparently, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said jammers can easily be purchased, citing that a member of his staff was able to get four jammers in one day with an estimated cost of P30,000.
Apart from two years of imprisonment under NTC memorandum No. 1-02-2010, and the up to 12 years under Comelec’s election code, Cordoba said the offense doesn’t allow parole, and the individual involved will suffer perpetual disqualification to hold any government office, and will lose his/her right to vote.
He said jammers, which basically looks like a normal wifi Internet router with four antennas, can cover 10 to 20 meters from its source, and can be plugged into the lighter outlet of a vehicle.
The DILG, Comelec and PNP appealed to the public to inform them on the sale or use of jammers by calling the PNP hotline at (0917) 8475757 or the NTC hotline at (02) 921-3251/926-7722/920-4464.