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Poll chief: Comelec complying with NPC recommendations for better security online

The Commission on Elections is laying down ways to comply with the recommendations set by the National Privacy Commission after the "ComeLeak" incident, poll chief Andres Bautista said.

In an interview Wednesday, Bautista said the NPC's findings, made public last week, have been discussed by the seven-member Comelec en banc.

"Napag-usapan naman, oo. Alam n'yo yung mga recommendations ng NPC para palakasin 'yung website ng Comelec are all well-taken at talaga namang ipapatupad nating lahat yan," he said.

The compliance to some of the NPC's recommendations comes as Comelec prepares its motion for reconsideration for the NPC's findings that said that the poll body violated provisions of Republic Act No. 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Bautista noted that the en banc has appointed a temporary data protection officer, a requirement per the implementing rules and regulations of the said law. 

In the meantime, Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino sits in the said post.

While qualifications for the said job are unclear to them, Bautista said they eye the appointment of a permanent officer before January 27.

Bautista also said the poll body will hold a workshop for its employees next week, to discuss provisions of the Data Privacy Act and its IRR.

NPC officials have been invited as resource persons, he added.

These developments come after the NPC released its decision from its investigation of Comeleak, where a set of hackers supposedly gained access to voter information after another group hacked and defaced the poll body's website.

In its findings, the NPC said Comelec violated Sections 11, 20, and 21 of Republic Act No. 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Bautista was found to have violated the same sections, as well as Section 22, in relation to Section 26 of the same Act, which states that the head of an agency "shall be responsible for complying with the security requirements." 

The NPC recommended the filing of criminal charges against the poll chief because of this—a decision that Bautista said was "too much."

Support for Bautista

On Wednesday, some Comelec employees, mostly dressed in white, showed their support for Bautista by joining him in the noon Mass at the Manila Cathedral.

After the Mass, they gathered in front of the church, where some of the employees cheered "Mabuhay si Chairman!" and posed for photos with him.

Bautista said the gesture was heartwarming.

He also noted that he is lifting the resolution of the matter up to God.

"Ang turo ng aking ina sa amin, kapag may hamon sa buhay, dapat dumulog at humingi ng lakas mula sa taas," he said.

"Nandiyan na 'yan. Sabi ko nga, tayo sa buhay may kaniya-kaniyang hamon, may kaniya-kaniyang krus na pinapasan. Siguro ang hamon sa atin ay pasanin ang mga krus na ito nang may dangal at pananampalataya," he added. — RSJ, GMA News