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Comelec to finally open source code for review

Local groups may finally be able to access and review the code that runs the ballot-counting machines used in the 2010 elections and will be used again in the May 13 midterm polls. On Monday, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said US-based Dominion Voting Systems, the source code's owner, has agreed to release the code for review by local groups. “Nung Biyernes nagpirmahan na 'yung Smartmatic at ang Dominion sa America,” Brillantes told reporters in an interview at the Comelec headquarters in Manila. “Dadalhin na dito sa Pilipinas ang source code 2013.” 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. Comelec's refusal to bare the source code has prompted senatorial candidate Richard Gordon to file a petition with the Supreme Court, and local election watchdogs to file a complaint before the United Nations. The poll body has earlier received flack for refusing to open the code for review, with critics saying it is a sign that the elections may not be as transparent as the Comelec is saying. Brillantes refused to confirm if the actual source code is in the hands of the Comelec at the moment. “Di ko muna sasagutin,” he said. “We are not making any conclusions yet until Dominion comes in. Smartmatic is also coming in. So everyone is here, all key players are here.”   Representatives from both Smartmatic, provider of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, and Dominion will be in the country by Tuesday at the latest, Brillantes said. “Darating within the week, we expect the either Monday night, pwedeng Tuesday ng gabi, mag-aabang na lang kami ng announcement ng ETA (estimated time of arrival) nila,” he said. Brillantes said the imminent review of the source code should put to rest any doubts on the upcoming elections. “Manahimik na ang lahat, mga nagsasabing walang source code. Kung anu-ano pa ang sinasabi, pwede ba? Tumahimik na at magtulungan tayong lahat,” he said. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has set oral arguments on Gordon's petition on Wednesday, May 8, less than a week before the midterm elections. On its official Twitter account, the Supreme Court Public Information Office, through its spokesman Theodore Te, said the poll body was directed to comment on Gordon's petition for mandamus filed Friday last week. A mandamus compels someone to perform a specific public duty. "GORDON v. COMELEC, GR No. 206719, SC requires COMELEC to COMMENT not later than 12 NN of May 8; case is set for orals on May 8, 4 PM," said Public Information Office chief Theodore Te on Monday. "[T]he petition appears to be sufficient in form and substance," Te said. The en banc ruling, signed by Enriqueta Vidal, was issued with authority of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. The high tribunal's 15 magistrates are currently on a month-long "decision writing break." En banc session will resume in June.  — with Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News