Ex-Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim is new Smartmatic spokesman

The development comes in the wake of controversy that Smartmatic’s servers were supposedly compromised, although the firm has maintained that the data leaked online have nothing to do with the 2022 polls

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ automated election system (AES) software provider Smartmatic hired former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Christian Robert Lim to be its spokesperson in time for the 2022 polls.

The development came in the wake of controversy stemming from the supposed security breach involving Smartmatic’s servers, although the firm has maintained that the data leaked online had nothing to do with the conduct of the 2022 polls.

Lim briefly served as acting Comelec chairperson – first in January 2015 after the retirement of Sixto Brillantes Jr., and second twice in October 2017 after the resignation of Andres Bautista.

“I got appointed on March 28, 2022,” Lim told Rappler in a text message on Tuesday, April 5, when asked about his affiliation with Smartmatic.

Three days after his appointment as spokesman, he and other top Smartmatic officials faced the newly appointed Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia, and Commissioner Rey Bulay in a closed-door meeting to discuss the alleged security breach.

It was in that March 31 meeting that Smartmatic informed the Comelec that the data that were the subject of the leak were only about the company’s internal organization and activities.

“They assured us that the security of the ballot and the configured SD cards were not compromised by that leakage,” Pangarungan told reporters on April 1, adding that Smartmatic notified the Comelec that the employee responsible for the controversy had already been fired.

MEETING. Former poll commissioner Christian Robert Lim speaks on behalf of Smartmatic during the firm’s meeting with top Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials headed by Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan. Photo courtesy of Pangarungan’s office.

Lim entered the Comelec as a commissioner handpicked by then-president Benigno Aquino III in April 2011, and mandatorily retired in February 2018.

For the 2016 polls, Lim was the steering committee head, a role which gave him a complete, unhampered picture of the AES. Colleagues, even then-chairperson Bautista, deferred to Lim when asked by reporters to explain technical matters in connection with the polls.

Lim was also once the head of the Comelec’s campaign finance office, which monitors candidates’ campaign expenses. He stepped down in 2016 after he opposed his colleagues’ decision to accept the late submission by the Liberal Party of its documents for that election.

Prior to his Comelec stint, he was a private law practitioner for over 12 years.

Now that he’s back in the election scene, Lim is expected to be the face of Smartmatic as it answers claims that its infrastructures were compromised.

Ex-Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim is new Smartmatic spokesman

The electoral reforms panel headed by Senator Imee Marcos, sibling of late dictator’s son and presidential candidate Ferdinand Jr., is scheduled to hold another inquiry on the alleged breach on April 19.

It was the female Marcos and Senate President Vicente Sotto III who claimed on March 17 that Smartmatic’s system has been compromised, a conclusion that was supposedly established during a closed-door session organized by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.

That executive session appeared to have dug deeper into a January 10 Manila Bulletin report of an alleged hacking into the Comelec’s servers, with hackers supposedly stealing 60 gigabytes’ worth of sensitive election-related data.

The poll body has since pointed out loopholes in the report, saying the claim that the PINs and passwords of vote-counting machines were stolen by hackers is false because they have yet to be uploaded online.

The Comelec has also assured the public time and again that its infrastructures for the 2022 polls were not hacked. – Rappler.com

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