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Comelec offers to put $10M in escrow to facilitate source code release

In order that it can finally review the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines's software source code, the  Commission on Elections offered to place $10 million in an escrow account while Dominion Voting System and Smartmatic continue their legal battle. According to Comelec chief Sixto Brillantes Jr., Dominion is insisting that Smartmatic owes it the $10 million for the use of former’s technology in the 2010 polls. Dominion thus canceled the 2009 license agreement with Smartmatic which made the latter Dominion’s legitimate representative in the Philippines. Smartmatic retaliated and filed a case in Delaware’s Court of Chancery against Dominion for: “failing to deliver fully functional technology for use in the 2010 Philippine national election”, “failing to provide timely technical support during and after” the 2010 polls, and “failing to place in escrow the required source code, hardware design and manufacturing information.” Brillantes said that the Comelec would not pay the $10 million diectly to Dominion. “Wag naman. Ginagawa nyo kaming collection agency. Ang counter offer ko, put in escrow the $10 million and whoever wins in the Delaware case, ibigay ang pera. Yun ang nine-negotiate namin,” he said. Brillantes said with the money in escrow “Dominion will be at least guaranteed hindi sila tatakbuhan ng smartmatic dahil nandito ang pera. Kung manalo sila, kung matalo s ila, wala silang problema.” Brillantes added that they could get the $10 million from money they have yet to pay to Smartmatic. “We are still holding some amount., Meron pa kaming retention sa Smartmatic na 10 percent nung P1.8 billion, that’s P180 million. Meron pa kaming five percent additional retention, that’s another 90 million. That’s already P270. Tapos mayroon pa kaming ibang payables sa Smartmatic. Easily hahabulin naming yong P400 million. Kayang-kaya,” he said., The Comelec is yet to get the certified source code, now in the hands of independent certifier, Systest Lab Inc or SLI Global Solutions. The source code will not be released to Comelec without the consent of Dominion. If the poll body will not be able to secure the certified source code, the same cannot be opened for review by political parties and other interest groups which is a requirement under Republic Act 9369. Section 11 of RA 9369 or the Automated Election Law says that three months before elections, there should be a “successful completion of a source code review; a certification that the source code is kept in escrow with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; and a certification that the source code reviewed is one and the same as that used by the equipment.” Brillantes earlier said the deadline for the review was on February 13. If Dominion will not allow the release of the source code, the Comelec will need to seek the help of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System to allow them to review, instead, the software in binary or machine language. The poll chief also said that in 2010, no one saw the source code but the automated elections pushed through. He further said that no questioned the validity of the May 2010 elections. — DVM, GMA News