Mr. Aquino often boasts of how our country has moved up into the world under his government. Six years of GDP growth, sustained ( though incremental) credit upgrades, praise from political crackpots such as Steve Forbes and even more effusive puffery from the Davos crowd.
Mr. Aquino basks and glows on the light of these charts and praises and often swaggers around like a reformer-Colossus who had totally turned around his prostrate country. The leaders and representatives of the Top 1 percent, the exclusive beneficiaries of his growth-at-all-cost government, make up the exuberant choir to Mr. Aquino’s preaching.
Hard truths, however, often shatter Mr. Aquino’s claim to greatness. Like the breach of the Commission on Elections website that had been described as the “world’s biggest government-related data breach.” If that is still Aramaic to you, I will amplify. No hacking of this scope and reach has ever been inflicted on any kind of sensitive government data in any part of the planet – till now. That we hosted another cyber record. Only this time, it was not about a wonder apps developed by our programmers that got wows from the tech world. But about a young hacker that breached the most important government website at the moment without even breaking a sweat.
If this daring hack does not make you think twice about the vulnerability of the website of our vital state institutions and the cyber security of the country, I don’t know what you are.
Simply put, the breach says we are just one, miserable Banana Republic that can’t even guarantee the safety—and integrity—of the tech infrastructure of our all-too-important electoral commission that possesses the data base of roughly 70 million voters.
We are a miserable country where a kid with a laptop and some patience can readily exploit the sub-Sahara status of the websites of the various, vital government institutions. No, no, the hack on the Comelec website was not the work of a genius. It was elementary hacking work that merely exploited the vulnerabilities and inherent weaknesses of the Comelec website. Any young, devious mind with a criminal intent and basic IT training can accomplish what the young hacker who breached into the Comelec system accomplished. Precisely because the Comelec was an easy-to-hack website and was developed and programmed on the cheap.
This is the equivalent of a cyber pogrom. It exposes the data of about 70 million citizens, the details of their lives, and make them all vulnerable to identity theft. Look at it this way. A scammer can steal from that data, collude with a corrupt banker (we have many) and borrow tons of money under that stolen identity/name. Or, on a smaller scale, someone can collude with a bank manager for the easy processing of a car loan under a stolen name.
Criminals now have a data bank of 70 million people whose bio-data they can use for evil purposes. Names, civil status, address, professional background, biological provenance. All of these are in the online data provided by the Comelec breach. If you are not terrified by this, check your name and the vital info about yourself in the exposed Comelec website.
The last presidential debate seamlessly segued into the Comelec website hack and problems raised in the debates by ordinary citizens further drove home the point that we are, hopelessly, a Banana Republic stuck in long-running Third World woes. Samples.
People who die without getting much-needed medical care and millions of Filipinos who die without even seeing a doctor, or getting into a health facility for that matter. Amid all the blah-blah of an expanded health care and cost-free health coverage for some sectors from the state, the hard truth is that we have one of the most inadequate health care systems in the world. We are not even aiming for a Canada-type or European-type of health care. Just a doctor, generic medicine, a blood chemistry exam once in every five years.
The needs are underwhelming — an available doctor in the remote and poor areas is heaven for most of us. But there is none and in the public hospitals, the regional and provincial facilities of government, patients line up the dirty corridors and hallways very much like pigs at the abattoirs. A government heart facility has a discount for heart operations catering to the poor – at P750,000 per surgery. What kind of cardiac patient from the urban slums and the blighted rural areas has seen that amount through their cursed and wretched life?
OFWs who want to return home but can’t because the remunerative jobs touted by the Aquino administration are non-existent. Or the jobs available are contractual jobs that pay slave wages, which was another poignant issue raised by a young man in the debate.
The Aquino administration had six years to tell the all-too-willing Congress to correct the structural flaws in the labor code that allows contractual, slave-type work. But it did not.
The need for decent health care and good jobs back home, and the monstrous, crippling traffic jams in Metro Manila, appeared to be minor irritants compared with the peace-related problems likewise raised during the debates.
Fishermen who can’t fish in our communal fishing grounds because of the China terror and residents of Maguindanao who have not lived a normal life in decades because of unceasing violence. What kind of country is one that can’t even give its citizens a good night sleep and a refuge from the fighting?
Ok, I know the standard answer. GDP, GDP. Or, an Orwellian version – Daang Matuwid.