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Security Council warns of foreign interference in 2025 polls

MANILA, Philippines — There may be foreign interference in next year’s midterm elections and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) should prepare to counter cyberattacks, the National Security Council (NSC) warned yesterday.

Foreign interference may come in the form of hacking and other internet-related intrusions or influencing the Filipino’s voting preferences or decisions through misinformation or fake news, according to the council.

The DICT itself has reported persistent sources, which the government should be prepared for during the midterm elections, NSC assistant director general Jonathan Malaya said.

“Given that it’s an election year, we should be starting to prepare now on how to protect the integrity of the electoral process and protect it from cyberattacks,” he told ANC yesterday.

“We see a consistent pattern abroad. We have seen foreign interference in elections in most democracies,” he added.

The United States and other countries accused China of being behind a series of hacks into lawmakers and key democratic institutions, an allegation that China denies with claims that it is against, and also cracks down on, all forms of cyberattacks.

Malaya said preparations for possible foreign interference include securing the election database from hacking and safeguarding the transmission of election results.

“It could be as subtle as troll farms or disinformation… to sway the public to a certain political thought. Or it could be as serious as hacking the electoral database. Or interfering with the transmission of votes,” he said.

New voting tech safe

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday assured the public that the technology to be used in next year’s elections is safe from possible cyberattacks.

The poll body started preparations early to ensure that the system is “tested” and all security measures are put in place, Comelec Chairman George Garcia said.

“The features and the wish list that we included in the hardware, software and transmission ensure the protection against any cyberattack,” he added.

Garcia issued the statement in reaction to the NSC’s warning of possible foreign interference in next year’s elections.