Comelec close to deal with Dominion, Smartmatic on release of source code
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes on Wednesday said they have been finalizing the agreement with automated elections technology suppliers Dominion Voting Systems Inc. and Smartmatic International for the release of the source code of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in time for its review by political parties, accredited organizations and independent candidates.
“We’re now winding up the specific provisions of the agreement. We’re still discussing some things. Then the final agreement will be sent to the lawyers of Smartmatic and Dominion in the United States, they will be the ones who will finalize the agreement,” said Brillantes told reporters in an interview at the National Printing Office Wednesday.
The poll chief said that as of Tuesday, the deal was already “97 percent” sure of being completed.
“We now have 96 to 97 percent chances of getting the source code for the machines to be used in the May 13 polls,” he said.
Brillantes earlier said that Dominion, the election provider that developed the PCOS technology, has practically agreed to release the source code.
“We’re just waiting for the lawyers’ go signal. I am just praying that after we are through here in the Philippines, those in the US will already approve it,” he said.
The source code of the PCOS machines is the computer-programming language that makes the machines run.
Dominion, which owns the technology of the PCOS and had licensed it to Smartmatic, had refused to release the source code because of a pending legal case against Smartmatic.
Dominion canceled its license agreement with Smartmatic in 2012. It has been asking for $10 million from Smartmatic for the use of the source code.
Comelec has been in talks with Dominion since late last 2012 for the release of the PCOS source code, which is currently with SLI Global Solutions, an independent certifying agency based in Denver. SLI will not release the source code to Comelec unless Dominion gives its consent.
Should the Dominion finally agree to release the source code, it should be made available for review of the political parties and other interested groups.
Several interest groups want to review the source code which is supposed to be conducted three months before the elections in accordance with the Automated Election System law.
Brillantes said he expects to announce the results of the negotiation by April 15, barely a month before the May 13 elections.
He said they have already started giving out notices to political parties and to citizens’ arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). He said source code reviewers can start with the Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS).
Meanwhile, the National Printing Office has finished printing all 52 million official ballots for the May 2013 elections, three weeks ahead of schedule.
The printing was completed in just 57 days, three weeks earlier than the scheduled completion date on April 25.
“Pati ako nagulat nga e. In 57 days, natapos agad ang printing ng balota natin . This is really record-breaking. I think this should set the manner of printing by NPO for all subsequent printing of all elections in the future,” said the poll chief.
Aside from saving time, Brillantes also pointed that they were able to save money from the project since it went through public bidding.
Brillantes, along with Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) head Henrietta De Villa, witnessed the printing of the last ballot in a closing ceremony at the NPO office in Quezon City on Wednesday.
“We made it in 57 days… we hope we satisfied you with our performance,” said NPO Director Emmanuel Andaya addressed the crowd composed of Comelec and NPO personnel.
NPO Deputy Director Raul Nagrampa said they were able to save as much as P200 million compared to the 2010 polls.
And now that the precinct-specific ballots are all printed, tested, and packed, the 52,333,801 official ballots will be delivered to different parts of the country at the proper time, according to Brillantes.
As explained by Brillantes, deployment shall be in different stages starting with the Comelec warehouse in Marikina City then to the regional hubs, provinces, municipalities, and finally to precincts on Election Day.
“These are already good for delivery along with other items and election paraphernalia,” said Brillantes.
It can be recalled that ballot printing, which was out-sourced by the NPO to Holy Family Printing Corporation and Canon Marketing Philippines, began last February 4.
The Comelec has already contracted two companies to handle the deployment of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and other election paraphernalia.
Airfreight 2100, Inc. is set to handle deployment to all regions in the country except in Visayas, which will be carried out by Joint Venture of 2GO Express, Inc. and 2GO Logistics Inc.