Suspected Comelec website hacker to face charges

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Manila City prosecutor's office found probable cause to file charges against 20-year old Information Technology (IT) graduate Paul Biteng for allegedly hacking into the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website and database.

Chief Inquest Prosecutor Atty. Jovencio Senados said on Monday (April 25) there is enough evidence to try Biteng for several violations of the cybercrime prevention law. The violations are illegal access to a computer system, data interference, and misuse of devices.

The prosecutor's office is filing the case before the Manila Regional Trial Court on Tuesday.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Biteng on April 20 after a search in his home in Sampaloc, Manila yielded pieces of evidence linking him to the hacking.

Biteng admitted defacing the Comelec website on March 27.

But investigators said he may have been involved in a succeeding leakage of what appears to be a large portion of the Comelec's database, including voters' personal identity information. Biteng denied investigators' allegations.

The NBI said Biteng is part of a group of hackers, and investigators are still hunting for other suspects.

"We find that there was probable cause because according to the information and data gathered by the NBI... The online account that was used in hacking the Comelec website belongs to the guy. Itong suspect dito sa kaso na ito, kilala dun sa grupo at tinatawag na 'master.' Lumalabas, siya yung isa sa pinakamagaling dun sa grupo," said Senados.

[Translation: The suspect in this case, known in the group as "master" is known as the best hacker in their group.]

He added Biteng may face tougher punishment for hacking into what's called 'critical infrastructure' because it is the election period; tapping into the Comelec website or database is especially sensitive at this time.

So instead of a minimum of six years, Biteng might end up spending at least 12 years in prison if he is found guilty.