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BSP receives source code for safekeeping

February 9, 2010 2:22pm
As the campaign period for the May 10 polls kicked off on Tuesday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) received the software master copy that would be used in the first automated elections.

In a short ceremony, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) turned over the software, known as the source code, to the BSP, which it will hold for safekeeping.
Officials of the Commission on Elections and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas seal and secure the source code.- Kim Tan

Republic Act 9339 requires the Comelec to keep the master copy of the source code in escrow with the BSP.

Securing source codes will guard against holes or trap doors that can be used to corrupt data and/or cheat during the elections.

The source code is composed of human readable instructions that programmers will write and rewrite as needed. It is then converted – or “compiled" – into executable code, the system used by poll machines to count votes properly.

The source code was certified by international software testing company SysTest Labs in their facility in Colorado, USA for P75 million.

The American company brought the code to the country on February 1 and formally turned it over to the Comelec early Tuesday.

Encoded in two compact discs, the source code was placed in a small black safety box with the hash codes, locked, and sealed with four Comelec stickers.

The BSP then placed the small safety box in a fire and waterproof vault inside a caged room at the BSP facility in Manila.

The Comelec was entrusted with the keys to the padlocks of the cage, the key to the safety box, and the combination of the vault.

The source code will be kept in escrow for a little over a year, said Comelec Chairman Jose Melo during the escrow agreement signing held at the Central Bank's facility in Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

The source code “cannot be in a safer place [and] in safer hands except in the Central Bank," he said.

While the procedure might look simplistic, “[keeping it in the BSP] is a very important segment in the whole exercise of our automated elections," Melo said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the agency needs the master copy of the source code for any future problems with the automated system.

"The idea here is that we are able to keep the source code in this secure location so that at any point in the future [when] it is necessary to refer to a standard for the source code, then this standard is it," he said.

The poll body had earlier planned to turn over the source code to the BSP last Friday, but the Central Bank first had to pass a resolution allowing it.

By securing the automation code, the Philippines’ central bank fulfills its part for the country’s very first nationwide automated elections, BSP officer-in-charge Nestor Espenilla Jr. said.

"With this simple act, we in the Bangko Sentral, commit to do our share in protecting the integrity of the upcoming automated election system, a historic first for our country," he said. - LBG, RJAB Jr./GMANews.TV
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