Comelec chief: Source code remains elusive

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Monday, April 15, 2013

MANILA -- Chances of the source code of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines coming to the Philippines and returning to the hands of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) remains elusive with only 28 days to go before the May 13 polls.

In an interview, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes lamented over their continued failure to secure the source code despite their relentless negotiations with Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic International.

"About 50 percent chance. It went down again… only because of the time constraints since there are only a few weeks left before our elections," said Brillantes.

Earlier this month, the poll chief said the probability of securing the source code is already at 97 percent with an agreement already being drafted by the stakeholders and are up for approval of their lawyers in the United States.

Brillantes related that the two firms continue to disagree over certain contents of the agreement, particularly over "monetary issues."

He said this is the part that frustrates him considering that he has been mediating for several months between lawyers of the two companies here in the country.

"Ang interest dito [my interest here] is only the interest of the Philippine government and the Comelec, which is paramount over and above everybody else," said the official.

Because of this, Brillantes said he is set to send an e-mail to lawyers of Dominion and Smartmatic in the US asking for a deadline for the source code issue.

"I'm sending my e-mail to both Smartmatic and Dominion US lawyers, and I'll say, by within the week, if we don't get any response, we will just say tapos na [it's over]," said the former poll lawyer.

Brillantes had said in the past that the absence of the source code will not be hampering the conduct of the automated elections but is more on ensuring the credibility of the elections.

To recall, Dominion has been refusing to give its permission for SLI Global Solutions, the Comelec's third party reviewer, to release the source code certification to the poll body amid the former's continued legal dispute with Smartmatic.

The source code is defined as the human readable instructions that define what the computer equipment will do.

But aside from the source code, the Comelec chair said they are already "practically ready" for the May 13 polls.

"We are practically ready. I think it should be over 90 percent by now. This is a work in progress and we are already in the finishing stage," said Brillantes.

He added that their preparation could have been completed much earlier had they not been hounded by some issues during the public bidding, particularly among those projects won by Smartmatic.

To note, the Comelec had already issued Notices to Proceed to their contractors for the establishment of National Support Center; delivery of ballot boxes; setting up of the transmission services and modems; delivery of compact flash cards, thermal papers, marking pens, toners, and external rechargeable batteries; and the deployment of election equipment and paraphernalia to different regions.

The month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV) had also begun last Saturday in almost all participating Philippine posts abroad, including the seven areas where the PCOS machines will be utilized. (HDT/Sunnex)

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