WHILE the military has yet to ascertain the authenticity of intelligence reports that China may attempt to sabotage the 2016 elections, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the potential is there and it is “frightening.”
The military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it would be easy to hack a computer-operated machine like the Optical Mark Readers (OMRs).
“Wala naman akong masasabi na actual na sabotage but the potential is there. Palamanan lang yan it can be activated remotely. For example nandun yun sa ibang country, i-activate dito. You should remember we are already wired, Internet na tayo, e pwedeng i-sleeper cell mo lang yan, and activate it after six months or one year (Personally, I cannot say anything on the actual sabotage but the potential is there. Just put something inside (the machine) and it can be activated remotely. For example, the one controlling it is in another country and it will be activated here. You should remember we are already wired, we are now on the Internet. You can just put a sleeper cell and activate it after six months or one year), the official said.
He described the potential sabotage as “dangerous and frightening.”
Another military official disclosed that the AFP is checking the sabotage reports. He lauded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for being prudent.
“Comelec was very prudent about it. At bilib kami kasi tama at maganda ang ginawa nila. (We admire them because they did the right thing) With this, you can be sure they are taking the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of our electoral process, that is what counts,” the official said.
The Comelec has directed Smartmatic-TIM to move the manufacturing of OMR machines from China to Taiwan after it reportedly received intelligence reports that Beijing might attempt to sabotage the 2016 elections.
Commissioner Robert Lim said the Comelec en banc has made the transfer of the factory producing the 93,000 OMRs “non-negotiable” for Smartmatic-TIM because they are concerned that an ongoing arbitration case between China and the Philippines may have an effect on the national polls next year.
The OMR machines are expected to be delivered in January 2016, around the same time that the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague is expected to rule on the arbitration case.
“The biggest threat to the 2016 elections is China. We have received reports that there could be efforts to sabotage our elections, so we made it a point during the contract negotiations that we discuss this with Smartmatic and we told them we do not want the factory [manufacturing election machines]in China. We want the machines done outside China. We don’t want any complication,” Lim told the members of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms who sought a briefing from the poll body on preparations for the elections.
Beijing and Manila have been locked in a maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which China claims.
Malacañang however said it was not aware of any plot by China to sabotage next year’s elections.
“It is best that Comelec explain this matter as we have no information on the point mentioned by Commissioner Lim in the House hearing,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has vehemently denied that such plot exists, stressing that the allegation was “totally groundless and a sheer fabrication.”