PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org



BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED TO PREVENT INFRA CRISIS - PPP CENTER


APRIL 20 -PPP Center executive director Andre Palacios said the country’s current infrastructure deficiencies could easily turn into a crisis if delays continue on critical developments. File photo  The Philippines is on the verge of an infrastructure crisis, which needs immediate government action and more investments to prevent it from happening, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center said. PPP Center executive director Andre Palacios said the country’s current infrastructure deficiencies could easily turn into a crisis if delays continue on critical developments. “There is an urgent need for infrastructure. We feel the need everyday as we go to EDSA and take the MRT. People describe it as an infrastructure gap and it’s pretty much close to infrastructure crisis. We have done a lot but there is still much more to be done. And if we don’t do more and don’t do these things quickly, the infrastructure gap may quickly slide into an infrastructure crisis,” Palacios said in an interview. The PPP Center official described an infrastructure gap as having infrastructure which are not sufficient to meet the demands for public services but “there remains an opportunity for the government to fill such gap.”  “Crisis will require a more drastic action on the part of government. We’re not there yet and if we continue our present rate of progress, we will be able to avoid it,” Palacios said. At its current state, the Philippines has the poorest quality of public infrastructure among the ASEAN-5 member states. READ MORE...

ALSO: WTO report says Asia to grow 3.4% in 2016


APRIL 21 -World trade is expected to grow by a modest 4.7% in 2014 and at a slightly faster rate of 5.3% in 2015 WTO economists said today (14 April 2014). FROM WTO WEBSITE
Asia is expected to record the fastest export growth this year at 3.4 percent, even as the world trade will remain sluggish at 2.8 percent amid easing economic growth of developed economies and picking up in developing ones. A report of the World Trade Organization (WTO) economists said exports of North America and Europe can growth each at 3.1 percent in 2016, while South and Central America and other regions will lag behind at 1.9 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. North America should see its imports increase by 4.1 percent this year, while Asian and European imports should both register growth of 3.2 percent.“Imports of developed countries should moderate this year while demand for imported goods in developing Asian economies should pick up,” the WTO said in the report emailed to select business journalists. In 2017, trade growth should accelerate to 3.6 percent, still below the average of five percent since 1990. Risks to the forecast are tilted to the downside, including further slowing in emerging economies and financial volatility. The WTO report stressed that risks to this forecast are mostly on the downside, including a sharper than expected slowing of the Chinese economy, worsening financial market volatility and exposure of countries with large foreign debts to sharp exchange rate movements. On the other hand, there is some upside potential if monetary support from the European Central Bank succeeds in generating faster growth in the euro area. The WTO’s world trade growth forecasts this and next year are based on consensus estimates of real world gross domestic product growing 2.4 percent this year and 2.7 percent in 2017, with growth slowing slightly in developed countries in 2016 and picking up modestly in developing ones. FULL REPORT

ALSO: SMC breaks ground for MRT-7 project, from North Metro to San Jose, Bulacan


APRIL 21 -President Benigno Aquino III leads the groundbreaking ceremony for the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 GMA NEWS PHOTO
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) broke ground for the Metro Rail Transit 7 (MRT-7) project, a 23-kilometer elevated railway from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.The project, which will have 14 stations, is to be implemented by newly-formed SMC Mass Rail Transit 7 Inc., which is under SMC’s infrastructure subsidiary, San Miguel Holdings Inc. It is expected to have an initial daily capacity of 350,000 passengers. During peak hours, MRT-7 will be able to accommodate 28,000 passengers per hour/per direction, scalable to 38,000. Ultimately, the company is targeting to serve over 800,000 passengers, daily. SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang formally announced the start of construction in a ceremony attended by President Aquino yesterday. “Mr. President, we are excited to finally get this project going. Good, reliable public transport systems are an essential part of development,” Ang told Aquino, who was joined by Transportation and Communications Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and officials from contractors Hyundai-Rotem and EEI. “Apart from freeing up road space and being more efficient, from a social perspective, public transport means more than just mobility. It opens a world of opportunities,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Boo Chanco - Business and politics


BOO CHANCO
It is often said and only half in jest, that the more astute businessmen leave the country at least three months before a presidential election. Being asked for contributions is a hazard specially with politicians running “for the funds of it.” Even worse is getting caught in a political crossfire and end up being summoned to a Senate hearing. Besides, no one is supposed to make really serious business decisions just before an election. And with the state of today’s communications technology, any business can be handled from anywhere in the world. Business and politics have always been a combustible combination in the Philippine economic environment. The historical example most cited is how former President Marcos smashed the once proud Lopez business empire just as martial law was declared. On the other hand, many of the country’s top corporations today got their break as crony companies of the Marcos regime. It is said that when the Marcos family came back from exile, they tried to reclaim ownership of among others, a tobacco company, a television network, a phone company, a satellite communication company and what is now a diversified conglomerate. The grapevine rumors have it that the former Marcos cronies refused to return ownership of these business empires, claiming Mr. Marcos never really paid to own any of the claimed shares. Everything was just verbal, so no claim can be enforced. I found it amusing to see a television news footage of a prominent Chinoy taipan walking behind Bongbong Marcos last Tuesday. Mr. Marcos was the speaker at the meeting of a Chinoy business federation of which the taipan was emeritus head. Will the Chinoy taipan now be more forthcoming as the Marcos family reclaims Malacańang? READ MORE...

ALSO: Banks warned vs identity theft ‘Comeleak’ website taken down
[The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has directed banks and financial institutions to strengthen their know-your-customer (KYC) practices to ensure the protection of the banking public from identity theft in light of the release online of voters’ personal details.]


Groups stage a protest in front of the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila yesterday to denounce the release on the Internet of personal details of voters. EDD GUMBAN
  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has directed banks and financial institutions to strengthen their know-your-customer (KYC) practices to ensure the protection of the banking public from identity theft in light of the release online of voters’ personal details. The website, containing a searchable database of sensitive information of registered Filipino voters, has been taken down and a manhunt is on for two more hacking suspects.
Various groups, however, continued to express concern that the hacking and data release, dubbed the “Comeleak,” could be used for election fraud on May 9. The Commission on Human Rights said yesterday that it is investigating possible violation of the right to privacy. BSP deputy governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. issued Memorandum No. M-2016-005 ordering all BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to beef up their KYC practices following the release of voters’ records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). “Relative to the reported unauthorized disclosure of voters’ registration records of the Comelec, all BSFIs are enjoined to strengthen their KYC practices and exercise extra vigilance against possible misuse of said information for financial transactions,” Espenilla said in the memo. READ MORE...RELATED, Website claims to have ‘leaked’ voters’ data...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Immediate action needed to prevent infra crisis – PPP Center


PPP Center executive director Andre Palacios said the country’s current infrastructure deficiencies could easily turn into a crisis if delays continue on critical developments. File photo

MANILA, APRIL 25, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Richmond Mercurio April 20, 2016 - PPP Center executive director Andre Palacios said the country’s current infrastructure deficiencies could easily turn into a crisis if delays continue on critical developments. File photo MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is on the verge of an infrastructure crisis, which needs immediate government action and more investments to prevent it from happening, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center said.

PPP Center executive director Andre Palacios said the country’s current infrastructure deficiencies could easily turn into a crisis if delays continue on critical developments.

“There is an urgent need for infrastructure. We feel the need everyday as we go to EDSA and take the MRT. People describe it as an infrastructure gap and it’s pretty much close to infrastructure crisis. We have done a lot but there is still much more to be done. And if we don’t do more and don’t do these things quickly, the infrastructure gap may quickly slide into an infrastructure crisis,” Palacios said in an interview.

The PPP Center official described an infrastructure gap as having infrastructure which are not sufficient to meet the demands for public services but “there remains an opportunity for the government to fill such gap.”

“Crisis will require a more drastic action on the part of government. We’re not there yet and if we continue our present rate of progress, we will be able to avoid it,” Palacios said.

At its current state, the Philippines has the poorest quality of public infrastructure among the ASEAN-5 member states.

READ MORE...

To accelerate the country’s infrastructure development, Palacios said the next administration should spend at least five percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in infrastructure and continue with the implementation of the PPP projects.

“Generally, government spending should be about five percent of GDP. That would be complemented by private sector spending for utilities as well as private sector spending for PPP projects,” he said.

“Given government’s limited resources, PPP looks at the private sector as a partner. The one that will provide capital as well as innovation to build the infrastructure and eventually deliver the public service,” Palacios added.

The PPP Center has so far awarded 12 projects worth P200.48 billion. Some 15 projects worth P579 billion are under procurement while 13 more are under development.

The PPP Center, initially targeted to complete the procurement of 11 projects before President Aquino steps down from office.

The number, however, has dwindled to eight following problems encountered by some projects with other government agencies.

“We keep pushing on our part but some of our partner agencies are reluctant to continue with the projects and they decided to postpone the bidding – like the prison – and postpone it to the next administration,” Palacios said.

“Last week, we were hoping that nine projects will still be awarded before the current administration ends. The nine includes the prisons project with Department of Justice (DOJ). But Friday, DOJ decided the bid submission for the project will be in August so we are left with eight DOTC projects, including the five regional airports,” he added.

Palacios said the bundled regional airports are most likely to be auctioned and awarded among the PPP projects within the remaining months of the current administration.

“Of the eight, the five regional airports are the most ripe because the five prequalified bidders are very much committed and ready to bid,” he said.

The PPP regional airports project involves the operations, maintenance and development of New Bohol (Panglao) Airport, Laguindingan Airport, Davao Airport, Bacolod Airport and Iloilo Airport.

“We hope we can still complete the procurement at least for those five regional airports if we want to prevent NAIA-type congestion in the regional airports,” Palacios said.

Other PPP projects seen to be procured at the tailend of the Aquino administration are the Davao Sasa Port Modernization Project, Road Transport Information Technology Infrastructure Project (Phase II) and Operation and Maintenance of LRT Line 2 Project.


TRIBUNE

WTO report says Asia to grow 3.4% in 2016 Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00 f


World trade is expected to grow by a modest 4.7% in 2014 and at a slightly faster rate of 5.3% in 2015 WTO economists said today (14 April 2014). FROM WTO WEBSITE

Asia is expected to record the fastest export growth this year at 3.4 percent, even as the world trade will remain sluggish at 2.8 percent amid easing economic growth of developed economies and picking up in developing ones.

A report of the World Trade Organization (WTO) economists said exports of North America and Europe can growth each at 3.1 percent in 2016, while South and Central America and other regions will lag behind at 1.9 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

North America should see its imports increase by 4.1 percent this year, while Asian and European imports should both register growth of 3.2 percent.

“Imports of developed countries should moderate this year while demand for imported goods in developing Asian economies should pick up,” the WTO said in the report emailed to select business journalists.

In 2017, trade growth should accelerate to 3.6 percent, still below the average of five percent since 1990. Risks to the forecast are tilted to the downside, including further slowing in emerging economies and financial volatility.

The WTO report stressed that risks to this forecast are mostly on the downside, including a sharper than expected slowing of the Chinese economy, worsening financial market volatility and exposure of countries with large foreign debts to sharp exchange rate movements.

On the other hand, there is some upside potential if monetary support from the European Central Bank succeeds in generating faster growth in the euro area.

The WTO’s world trade growth forecasts this and next year are based on consensus estimates of real world gross domestic product growing 2.4 percent this year and 2.7 percent in 2017, with growth slowing slightly in developed countries in 2016 and picking up modestly in developing ones.


TRIBUNE

SMC breaks ground for MRT-7 project Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00 f


President Benigno Aquino III leads the groundbreaking ceremony for the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 GMA NEWS PHOTO

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) broke ground for the Metro Rail Transit 7 (MRT-7) project, a 23-kilometer elevated railway from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

The project, which will have 14 stations, is to be implemented by newly-formed SMC Mass Rail Transit 7 Inc., which is under SMC’s infrastructure subsidiary, San Miguel Holdings Inc.

It is expected to have an initial daily capacity of 350,000 passengers. During peak hours, MRT-7 will be able to accommodate 28,000 passengers per hour/per direction, scalable to 38,000.

Ultimately, the company is targeting to serve over 800,000 passengers, daily.

SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang formally announced the start of construction in a ceremony attended by President Aquino yesterday.

“Mr. President, we are excited to finally get this project going. Good, reliable public transport systems are an essential part of development,” Ang told Aquino, who was joined by Transportation and Communications Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and officials from contractors Hyundai-Rotem and EEI.

“Apart from freeing up road space and being more efficient, from a social perspective, public transport means more than just mobility. It opens a world of opportunities,” he said.

READ MORE...

“For wage-earners, it means having more choices when it comes to place of work. It gives our citizens greater access to education and healthcare. For senior citizens and people with disabilities, an efficient public transport system allows them to travel more freely,” he added.

Ang added that once the MRT-7 is built, it will only take 30 minutes to commute end-to-end, compared to the current two-hour travel time. The MRT-7 will also connect to the MRT-3, with a provision to connect to LRT-1.

The project also has a road component, a 23-kilometer stretch that will start at the Balagtas Interchange of Nlex and end in an intermodal terminal in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. This will provide provincial buses with an alternate route to San Jose and will help decongest Edsa.

SMC will be involved in the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the project.

SMC has tapped the Hyundai Rotem and EEI consortium to build the railway line composed of the 14 stations, namely: Quezon North Avenue Joint Station; Quezon Memorial Circle; University Avenue; Tandang Sora; Don Antonio; Batasan; Manggahan; Dona Carmen; Regalado; Mindanao Ave.; Quirino; Sacred Heart; Tala; and San Jose del Monte.

The project is expected to be completed in three to four years. As part of the concession, SMC will also build a depot in San Jose del Monte that will house a control center, administrative offices, warehouse and facilities for train cars.


PHILSTAR

Business and politics DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 22, 2016 - 12:00am 51 44 googleplus0 1


BOO CHANCO

It is often said and only half in jest, that the more astute businessmen leave the country at least three months before a presidential election. Being asked for contributions is a hazard specially with politicians running “for the funds of it.” Even worse is getting caught in a political crossfire and end up being summoned to a Senate hearing.

Besides, no one is supposed to make really serious business decisions just before an election. And with the state of today’s communications technology, any business can be handled from anywhere in the world.

Business and politics have always been a combustible combination in the Philippine economic environment. The historical example most cited is how former President Marcos smashed the once proud Lopez business empire just as martial law was declared.

On the other hand, many of the country’s top corporations today got their break as crony companies of the Marcos regime. It is said that when the Marcos family came back from exile, they tried to reclaim ownership of among others, a tobacco company, a television network, a phone company, a satellite communication company and what is now a diversified conglomerate.

The grapevine rumors have it that the former Marcos cronies refused to return ownership of these business empires, claiming Mr. Marcos never really paid to own any of the claimed shares. Everything was just verbal, so no claim can be enforced.

I found it amusing to see a television news footage of a prominent Chinoy taipan walking behind Bongbong Marcos last Tuesday. Mr. Marcos was the speaker at the meeting of a Chinoy business federation of which the taipan was emeritus head. Will the Chinoy taipan now be more forthcoming as the Marcos family reclaims Malacańang?

READ MORE...

With a second generation Marcos a heartbeat away from reclaiming lost glory, many of the former cronies of the late dictator must be worried. The widow and the children in all likelihood did not appreciate the runaround and outright denial they got from former Marcos cronies when they were down and out of power.

The EDSA event gave rise to new favorites as the Aquinos assumed power. It was during the watch of Tita Cory that the so called Kamag-anak Inc. gained prominence. There are the Cojuangcos of Hacienda Luisita and related businesses. She had also been accused of returning many oligarchs back on their saddles.

For FVR, the most scandalous transaction during his watch had to do with the building of NAIA Terminal 3. After asking a group of taipans to organize a company to make an unsolicited bid to build the terminal, FVR turned around and awarded it to what should have been declared a non-responsive bid during the Swiss Challenge.

The taipans were also reportedly instructed to withdraw a court challenge to the award. It was a most unfortunate and contentious project through three administrations.

Then there was the MRT-3 award. The problems of MRT-3 today are rooted on how the BLT contract was structured and restructured through several administrations. The MRT Consortium was composed of some of the bluest of blue chips in the local business sector including FilEstate, Ayala Land, Anglo Phil (related to National Bookstore), Greenfield (related to Unilab), Ramcar, Antel and DBH.

Crony power became scandalous again during Erap’s watch. Erap used GFIs or government financial institutions to help his friends to among others, buy a bank and boost the share price of an issue called BW Resources. Erap also brokered the sale of PLDT from the Cojuangco group to the First Pacific or Salim Group.

The Arroyo watch was marred with scandals involving Chinese business interests that were favored at the behest of powerful Lakas politicians. Remember the ZTE broadband deal? Then there is also the NorthRail deal. There were pervasive rumors of family members dipping into various projects.

The current administration suspected a retail, property and financial conglomerate got too cozy with Ate Glue which explains why it ended up in the dog house. The suspicion was heightened because some close former aides of Ate Glue got positions in the conglomerate’s financial institution and foundation. Worse the Ate Glue underlings flaunted the connection on Facebook and traditional media.

At least two big land deals of the group are on hold, one large parcel in Bonifacio and the other is the former Pimeco property on C5. A reclamation project in Pasay City is with the LGU, but is facing tough national regulatory scrutiny.

DOTC also backed out of a deal on the common station for the LRT/MRT system on North Avenue even if the group already paid P200 million to locate it near their mall. The Palace is pushing for a second “common” station proposed by a favorite’s mall across the street.

Though not suspected of collaboration with Ate Glue, the most unfortunate conglomerate is the Metro Pacific Group. For some reason, the Palace seemed to have so disliked MPIC and made it tough for them to get projects or even contractual rate increases.

MPIC had to negotiate control of the Subic toll road three times before eventually getting it, but only after a Swiss Challenge. MPIC gave in to everything government wanted each time but couldn’t seal the deal. Even Tong Payumo, who was BCDA chair at that time, couldn’t understand it.

The MPIC proposal to build the connector road connecting the NLEX with SLEX over the PNR right of way was discussed for almost six years now and nothing much has moved. A decision was recently made for a Swiss Challenge, but even that hasn’t moved too.

Rate increases for Maynilad, NLEX and Cavitex have been ignored even if the terms of the contract called for the adjustments. These are all in arbitration now and in the case of Maynilad, for the second time too.

A generous MPIC proposal to take over MRT 3 with all its legal problems and all the capex necessary to modernize the dilapidated system for fares competitive with at-grade buses was rejected without explanation. It would have removed a very big problem for government. But DOTC decided to inconvenience commuters and put them in danger presumably as instructed by the Palace.

There are other stories, but these main ones show how important it is to be in the good graces of whoever is the current tenant of Malacańang. There was a time when it was possible for a businessman, like the late Eugenio Lopez, to be strong enough to fight then President Diosdado Macapagal and prevail.

But the weight of the business-palace relationship shifted in favor of the palace after Marcos subdued the Lopez patriarch by first denying Meralco rate increases and later during martial law actually taking over the company. From that time on, no business leader can displease a president consciously or not.

Today the wise leader of a conglomerate invests in up and coming politicians early in their public careers. That explains why Chiz Escudero had two lavish wedding receptions and two dozen sponsors, all taipans and sons of taipans, Pinoy, Chinoy and Conyo. That is also why big companies are lending their corporate planes to politicians specially during the campaign season.

The most interesting development after this election, if Bongbong wins, is watching how the Marcos family deals with the Marcos cronies, specially those who denied they kept shares in their companies for the late dictator. It is going to be payback time.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com . Follow him on Twitter @boochanco .


PHILSTAR

Banks warned vs identity theft ‘Comeleak’ website taken down By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 23, 2016 - 12:00am 2 30 googleplus0 0


Groups stage a protest in front of the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila yesterday to denounce the release on the Internet of personal details of voters. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has directed banks and financial institutions to strengthen their know-your-customer (KYC) practices to ensure the protection of the banking public from identity theft in light of the release online of voters’ personal details.

The website, containing a searchable database of sensitive information of registered Filipino voters, has been taken down and a manhunt is on for two more hacking suspects.

Various groups, however, continued to express concern that the hacking and data release, dubbed the “Comeleak,” could be used for election fraud on May 9.

The Commission on Human Rights said yesterday that it is investigating possible violation of the right to privacy.

BSP deputy governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. issued Memorandum No. M-2016-005 ordering all BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to beef up their KYC practices following the release of voters’ records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Relative to the reported unauthorized disclosure of voters’ registration records of the Comelec, all BSFIs are enjoined to strengthen their KYC practices and exercise extra vigilance against possible misuse of said information for financial transactions,” Espenilla said in the memo.

READ MORE...

He pointed out customer identification procedures of BSFIs that rely on static information that may be obtained from the disclosed Comelec records should be supplemented by requests for additional proof or secondary information to establish the true identity of new and existing clients.

Banco de Oro president and chief executive officer Nestor Tan said the bank owned by retail and banking magnate Henry Sy is reviewing the process of verifying accounts to avoid information that has been made publicly available by hackers of the Comelec website.

“We are looking at using biometrics to aid in customer identity verification,” Tan said.

Banking public should not panic

Allan Tumbaga, director for industry relations of the Bankers Marketing Association of the Philippines (BMAP), said the banking public should not panic in light of the hacking of the voters’ list of the Comelec.

Tumbaga pointed out the customer verification of banks now go beyond birth dates, address and mother’s maiden name, among others.

He said customer representatives of banks ask about account numbers, credit card numbers, history of transactions and other details about the account or credit card holders.

However, he encouraged the banking public to refrain from using birth dates and addresses, among others, as their PINs and passwords.

“If you used your birth dates, address, mother’s maiden name, you better change your PIN and passwords now,” he said.

Personal details of voters have been publicly released online via http://wehaveyourdata.com.

This raised alarm among netizens as the website contained information such as full names, birth dates, addresses, registration details and voter identification numbers.

Other voter details posted include the persons’ height and weight, passport details, and – in some cases – even biometric information such as fingerprint info and topography.

Website taken down

In an interview, Comelec spokesman James JImenez noted that the website www.wehaveyourdata.com was taken down yesterday, in coordination with the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

“I was informed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that they already took down the site after coordination with other organizations abroad. The US-DOJ, for instance, was contacted for help in the take down,” he said.

The leak, now being called COMELEAK, is believed to be the biggest leak of database of personal information in the country.

The information is believed to be from the database of the Comelec that was stolen on March 27.

“DOJ (is) currently in the process of requesting for the preserved data on Cloudflare and GoDaddy, through official channels, coordinating with the NBI,” he added in a follow-up Twitter post.

GoDaddy is the domain host which provided the website address, while Cloudflare is the security provider of the website. Both companies are based in the United States.

Based on the site information retrieved by The STAR prior to its taking down, the website was registered on April 8 and will expire in one year.

Website owner from Russia

Other details, which may be easily faked, identified the owner as Alex Petrenko from Russia.

According to the site page, the owners used the database dump of LulzSec Pilipinas containing information of around 70 million Philippine voters.

“The database contains a lot of sensitive information, including fingerprint data and passport information. So we thought that it would be fun to make a search engine over that data,” it added.

While the data has been publicly available since the hack on March 27, owners of the site noted that they have made it available for everyone with Internet access.

“It’s one thing to hear news about a huge data leak and another to see your data in a public website. Maybe, at least now, government will start thinking about security of citizens’ personal data,” they said.

CHR chairman Chito Gascon said they will also look into the incident.

He said the Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan – an initiative of the CHR and other organizations to monitor human rights abuses during the May elections – will look into the human rights aspect of the leak, such as possible violation of the right to privacy.

Security protocols

Malacańang called on the Comelec yesterday to ensure the integrity of polls following the hacking of the voters’ database.

The Palace, through Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., strongly condemned the cyber-attack on the website of the Comelec and expressed concern over the incident.

“Although verifications that have been made thus far have shown that the integrity of the automated election system has not been affected by the latest cyber-attack, we share the public’s concern on the ill-effects of this act,” Coloma said.

Coloma said the government as a whole was determined to ensure that similar acts would not be repeated and that the perpetrators would be prosecuted in accordance with law.

Coloma assured the public that concerned government agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Communications-Information and Communications Technology Office, were closely coordinating with the Comelec to further strengthen its security protocols. – With Janvic Mateo, Aurea Calica, Sheila Crisostomo, Rey Galupo, Ghio Ong

--------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Website claims to have ‘leaked’ voters’ data SHARES: 114 VIEW COMMENTS By: Tina G. Santos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:56 PM April 21st, 2016


Comelec Chair Andres Bautista

A website that essentially made the data allegedly copied from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as a searchable database surfaced online on Thursday.
The search engine wehaveyourdata.com “contains a lot of sensitive information, including fingerprint data and passport information. So we thought that it would be fun to make a search engine over that data,” according to a statement on the website.

“Hackers just hack and download data from websites but we make it accessible for anyone. It’s one thing to hear news about a huge data leak and another to see your data in a public website. Maybe, at least now, government will start thinking about security of citizens’ personal data,” it added.

The site surfaced on the same day the National Bureau of Investigation announced the arrest of a suspect in the recent defacement of the Comelec website.

An internet security firm has described the March 27 incident as potentially the world’s biggest government-related data breach, but officials said they had yet to verify if the released information has come from the Comelec database.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the NBI is now looking into the matter. “In the meantime that they have not furnished us a copy of their findings, we advise the public not to use the hacker website as it can be used by the hackers to steal your information and thus expose you even further to the dangers of identity theft,” Jimenez said.

“We also cannot rule out at this stage that this may be an attempt by the hackers to monetize the data they claim to have,” he added.

Jimenez said the Comelec had not yet verified the accuracy of the data that the hackers claim to have copied. He apologized to the public “for this continuing attack on your privacy,” but assured them that the poll body was doing everything to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

In a TV interview, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said “we are still trying to determine the full extent of what the data leak is. We’re not trying to make excuses. What happened happened, but also we’re trying to learn from our mistakes.

“What’s been done already is that we have transferred the hosting of the website. Before it was self-administered; now it is being hosted by the Department of Science and Technology. And also we have met with several companies like Microsoft, PLDT, that have been looking also for ways to assist us in… strengthening the firewall and ensuring that there are greater safeguards so this would not happen again.”

“And we have to distinguish the website, the public information website, from the website to be used in the results of the elections. So that is totally separate and distinct and the one that is going to be used in the elections is safe. Given this experience, we are ensuring that it will be safer than safe,” Bautista added.

Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said she wanted accountability on the part of the Comelec for the data leak. “I don’t know if heads should roll but I think we have to call the director of the IT department. Explain why this happened and what they intend to do to make our websites more secure.”
“If there is gross neglect, that is a ground [for sanctions] under the civil service rule,” Guanzon told reporters.

[MORE ON THIS ON HEADLINE NEWS PAGE]


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2016 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE