The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is withholding P90 million payable to the Smartmatic SGO Group over alleged negligence that may have resulted in a data breach that could affect the coming May 9 polls.
The Comelec is also awaiting the results of a government probe on the potential data breach before taking any action, said Comelec Chairman Saidamen B. Pangarungan before a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
He added that the P90 million payable to Smartmatic will be released if the Comelec is convinced that they had no hand in the data leakage that happened. However, Smartmatic said the security breach did not compromise the ballots and SD cards, and was limited to the company’s internal organization.
Senator Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos is alarmed over the data breach.
“The provider should show that its systems, its protocols are safe and secure over the long period of the election and the campaigns,” she said. “If it cannot secure its own system, how can we be confident that the system it provides Comelec is safe and secure?”
Smartmatic earlier admitted that one of its former worker had downloaded nonsensitive, day-to-day operational material and shared it to other people in an attempt to blackmail them for money.
Earlier, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said it was expecting to get a report from its law department on the possible civil and criminal liability of Smartmatic on the security breach.
“They should be responsible enough to deal with what is stated in the contract,” said Garcia.
The Comelec had tasked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to probe the matter.