House officials disagree on proposed probe into hacking of Comelec servers

Published January 11, 2022, 11:22 AM

by Ben Rosario

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Tuesday, Jan. 11 called for a congressional investigation into the Manila Bulletin report that a new incident of data breach of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) servers took place over the weekend.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate

However, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, vice chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said he is not about to give credence to the report.

“Well, we do not have to believe immediately the reported hacking since it was not mentioned how the hacking was made and from whom the information came from,” said Barzaga when sought for his reaction to the report.

Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, president National Unity Party

For Zarate, the information shared by Manila Bulletin is a cause for “grave alarm”.

“We welcome the Manila Bulletin (MB) Technews team report that sounded the alarm of a hackers’ group that supposedly breached the Comelec system last Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, and download files that allegedly included, among others, usernames and PINS of vote-counting machines (VCM). We trust that they will fully cooperate with a probe on this issue,” he said.

“Is this ComeLeaks Version 2? This is a deja vu that we dread, if indeed this is true, as this may compromise the integrity of the May 9 national and local elections,” said Zarate.

The opposition lawmaker said the incident should be investigated by Congress.

“The credibility of the coming elections will be put into question if this issue is not swiftly, independently and efficiently probed and addressed,” said Zarate.

Barzaga, president of the National Unity Party, said the Comelec should conduct its own investigation and if it finds it necessary, ask the support of the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Bureau of Investigation to dig deeper into the incident.

“Having been a part continuously of the congressional oversight on automated elections at the time it started way back in 2010, I am fully aware that there are proper safeguards that have been in place,” the senior administration solon said.