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SC asked to compel Comelec to show source code to political parties


Senatorial candidate Richard Gordon on Friday asked the Supreme Court to compel the Comelec to allow political groups to open and review the source code in the counting machines to be used for the coming polls.
 
In a petition for mandamus, Gordon, author of Republic Act No. 9369 which amended the Automated Election Law, also asked the high court to conduct oral arguments on the issue before the May 13 elections. A mandamus compels someone to perform a specific public duty.
 
Apart from Gordon, he also named his political party Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines as another petitioner.
 
"The law is clear. Section 14 of the Automated Election Law says that the Comelec shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review thereof,” said Gordon.
 
Gordon expressed concern about Comelec's refusal to give parties access to the codes.
 
“As I stated in the Petition, it pains me to file this case because as principal author of RA 9369, I and my colleagues intended to safeguard the sovereign will of the people in electing their leaders,” Gordon said in a statement.
 
“Placed in the wrong hands, the source code could be manipulated and used to systematically subvert and frustrate the people’s will,” he added.
 
A source code is the set of instructions to be followed by the computerized voting machine, and is written by computer programmers in a readable symbolic language.
 
Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. recently said the poll body already has the source code which will be used for the polls, but will not be made available to political parties and other interested groups for their own review.
 
But Brillantes assured that the codes have been properly reviewed by a third-party information technology firm, SLI Global Solutions, though its certification papers have yet to be released by the code's owner, Dominion Voting Systems.
 
Dominion is asking Smartmatic to pay it $10 million for the latter's alleged use of the former's technology.
 
When the negotiations started, the chance of getting the source code was 50 percent, later rising to 96 and 97 percent early this month when a draft agreement was sent to the owners of Smartmatic and Dominion abroad.
 
Earlier, Brillantes had said he was giving up on getting the source code for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
 
Without a 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. — Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMA News
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