Gordon asks SC: Open source code



With little more than a week before voters troop to the poll precincts on May 13, senatorial candidate Dick Gordon has asked the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow the political parties to examine and review the source code of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the elections.

In a mandamus petition, Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines (Bagumbayan-VNP), asked the high court to compel the Comelec to fulfill its duty and obtain the required source code and make it available for review.

They castigated the Comelec for its “continuing noncompliance” of its statutory duty under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 8436, or the Automated Election System Law, as amended by RA 9369.

“[The Comelec] has not done anything concrete to obtain the required source code from [PCOS machines manufacturer] Smartmatic Corp., and it has not made the required source code available for review by the political parties, candidates and the concerned entities enumerated in the law,” the petition stated.

The petitioners called on the high court to “immediately issue summons and set the petition for oral arguments before the elections.”

A court can issue an order of mandamus even without the benefit of full judicial process, or before a case has concluded.

Gordon and  Bagumbayan-VNP said the Comelec had “virtually ignored the law” by announcing that it would proceed with the May 13 elections even without the source code contemplated in the law, and even without any clearance from the congressional oversight committee on the automated elections.

“Alas, the respondent commission has become a legislature unto itself,” the petitioners said.

Gordon explained that the opportunity to review the source code—the encrypted software program that will instruct the PCOS machines how to read, count, canvas and transmit votes—was very important to ensure honest, clean and credible elections.

“In essence, the source code is the set of computer instructions to be followed by the PCOS machine which will determine the total votes that the candidates will get,” he said.

Gordon authored RA 9369 during his previous term as senator from 2004 to 2010. He is running as a guest candidate of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, one of two parties in the United Nationalist Alliance.

“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. Placed in the wrong hands, the source code could be manipulated and used to systematically subvert and frustrate the people’s will,” he said.

Gordon argued that the Comelec had no discretion on whether or not to allow  political parties to review the source code.

“The law is clear. Section 14 of RA 8436 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,’” he said.

Section 14 allows the examination and testing of the PCOS machines and the opening of the source code for review not only by political parties but also candidates, citizens’ arms or their representatives.

Gordon recalled that following the legal squabble between Smartmatic and its partner, the real owner of the source code, Dominion Voting Systems, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. told the media that he did not consider the review of the source code necessary, and that with or without the source code, the poll body was set to conduct the May 13 national and local elections.

According to Gordon, Brillantes later “changed gears” and announced that the Comelec already had the source code, but would not make it available for inspection by the political parties.

“I’m very concerned why the Comelec refuses to make the source code available for review and inspection after admitting that it has the source code,” the candidate lamented.

Later still, Brillantes “practically acknowledged” the importance of the source code when he announced to the media that the Comelec was considering suing Smartmatic in court for its failure to release or deliver the source code, Gordon said.

He also pointed out that Brillantes had not sought or obtained permission from Congress to conduct the polls despite the Comelec’s failure to comply with the requirements of the law concerning the source code.

Meanwhile, Brillantes on Friday said that to finally settle any lingering doubts about the credibility of the 2010 presidential elections, he was seeking the release to the public of the source code used in the 2010 elections.

The Comelec chair said he went to get the 2010 source code Friday from the central bank, where it is being stored, but Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas  Governor Amando Tetangco was not there. He said he would try again next week.

“Tetangco is in India. We need to obtain his go-signal. We will look at the vault. We will get the 2010 source code,” Brillantes told reporters.

“Many are saying that there was no source code in 2010 so we want it released to show that it was stored there in 2010. I want to testify that it’s there,” he added.

The Comelec’s critics have claimed that Smartmatic International, the provider of the PCOS machines, never had a copy of the source code and doubted it was ever deposited in the central bank.

“Truth is, there was no and has never been any source code held by Smartmatic both in 2010 and today since the real owner of the election technology, Dominion Voting Systems, has refused its disclosure and review under a 2009 licensing agreement,” the Automated Election System Watch (AES) election watchdog group said on Friday.

“This makes the whole system nontransparent: There is no way the voter, without an independent source code review by political parties and other interested groups, is assured of the accuracy and integrity of the election software,” AES said.

But Brillantes said that once he gets the copy of the 2010 source code from the central bank, he would have it released for review by political parties and interested groups.

“No one has reviewed it. We will open it if they want … I don’t know if Smartmatic will agree, but since it will not be used in [the midterm] elections, I think it can be released,” he said.

“I want to disprove those saying that, when the source code was deposited in the central bank [in 2010], it was just drama. We are sure and we’re 90, 100, 99 percent sure that there was a source code in 2010,” he added.

Brillantes said the critics were “not saying anything new” and that all their criticisms had been addressed by the Comelec.

“They have been questioning the credibility of the 2010 [elections] and they have never stopped questioning it. And now they’re applying it to [the] 2013 [midterm elections],” he said.

He noted that while the Comelec’s critics continue to claim that the automated system was faulty, they had not been able to show any proof or even credibly claim that the 2010 election results were erroneous.

“That is because the results are correct. It has been tested in over a hundred protest cases. It shows that the results of the PCOS were correct. So, they have no evidence that the PCOS was wrong,” Brillantes said.

“That is why they’re just making all this noise. No one is talking about evidence showing that the results of the 2010 elections are wrong. Not even one. No one has been able to show that,” he said.

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  • http://twitter.com/FloresCM Camille Flores

    Hope there will be clean and credible polls. Comelec should beware of Cayetano’s plan to steal victory from Legarda

    • sanjuan683

      hehehehe naku eh pareho talo ang dalawang iyan. Pagandahan sila ng mga pambobola sa commercial ads sa TV. Pareho lang sila ng team panot at team nognog puro pambobola ang kanila commercial ads puro kasinungalingan lalo na si hanep, si JV naman papitik-pitik ng daliri mukhang delikado baka mapitik yun pork barrel. hehehehehe

  • http://twitter.com/JerryJerrx jerry

    Team Jamby pa rin ako! Malinis na track record, mapagkakatiwalaan

    • sanjuan683

      hehehehehe ikaw lang ang may sabi niya kasi ikaw yun tsimoy niya na palagi inuutusan.

  • ikulong

    laos ka na gordon.

    • sanjuan683

      hehehehe sige kapag nadaganan ka ng poste at crane hindi ka tutulungan ni Gordon tatawanan ka lang hehehehe

  • roy

    the comelec can produce any source code. the question is… is it the source code embedded in the PCOS machines. Gordon don’t just ask for source codes, find a way to check the binary codes embedded in “ALL” PCOS machine.

  • pedronimo

    Thank God there’s HBO where I can watch “Source Code” that Sixto of Comelec is denying the public. Bah!

  • noypi_ako

    once source code was made accessible to many, it will become much easier to tamper with PCOS machines. napakaraming tao at pulitiko nakikiride-on lang sa issue but having no clear understanding about what source code really is.

  • Brix Villapando

    Humirit na naman si boy daldal…..pro dynasty……pro extension of term…

    • sanjuan683

      hehehe di bali madaldal kaysa sa Abnoy na presidente mo heheheheheh

  • nice_boy

    Let’s go back to manual counting. The Filipinos is not yet ready for automated elections. Automated elections requires trust, something Filipinos do not have. The law requiring the opening the source code to all interested parties is not a good provision. It’s like telling all hackers–and we have plenty– I am open, come do your mischief. IBM na lang tayo. “It’s Better Manual”.

    • Je Magno

      Masisi mo ba yung walang tiwala sa gobyerno? Malinaw na resulta ng election, Kung ano yung lalabas sa SWS survey yun din ang naka program sa PCOS….. ;)


    MEDIA MILEAGE na naman ang pakay ng TNL na pulitekerong ‘to!

  • disqusted0fu

    Have to agree with Gordon. The SC has been butting in with the decisions of the Comelec anyway so might as well butt in on this very important issue as well to ensure that there will be no repeat of the 2010 elections. Brillantes’ shifting from not being interested in the source code anymore to all of a sudden having a source code already but not available for review is just fishy.

  • maximus_meridius

    Ayaw nila pakita ang source code kasi naka program doon ang dagdag bawas in favor of abnoy’s candidates among them his unknown cousin bum Aquino and that trying hard risa hontiveros. possible source code portions might be the one below:
    if vote is gordon then add 1 to bum aquino.
    if vote is nancy binay then add 1 to risa hontiveros.
    and so forth….

  • Albert Einstien

    in 2010 billions WERE PAID TO RIGGED 2010 ELECTIONS as admitted by
    whistle blower but the YELLOW want to HOLD power that is why they kept
    silent so as not to fuel instabIlity…but WHAT REALLY happened to the
    WILL of the PEOPLE ?….they should INVESTIGATE 2010 elections for the
    sake of HISTORY..

  • Phoinex

    Only cheaters want to have the source code divulge!…It just like asking somebody to divulge your ATM pin#…..what an idiot these politicians are!

  • RyanE

    “Placed in the wrong hands, the source code could be manipulated and used to systematically subvert and frustrate the people’s will,” – Gordon
    Precisely! That is the main reason why Comelec should not release the source code to prevent malicious parties from the possibility of hacking and manipulating the system.

    • regd

      You beat me to it!

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