MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Commission on Elections (Comelec) until Wednesday noon to comment on the bid filed by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial bet Richard Gordon to compel Comelec to allow political party or group to examine source code of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the upcoming elections.
Source code is the programming software of all the computerized voting machines that will undertake the counting, canvassing, and transmission of votes on the day of the election.
“The Comelec is required to comment not later than May 8, 12 noon,” high court’s Information Chief Theodore Te said in a text message.
The high court also set an oral argument also on May 8 at 4 p.m.
Gordon, along with the Bagumbayan-VNP Movement, Inc., filed their petition following Comelec’s pronouncement that it will proceed with the elections contemplated in the law and even without any clearance from the congressional oversight committee.
In their 21-page petition for writ of mandamus, they argued that the Comelec is duty-bound to comply with Sec 14 of Republic Act (RA) No. 8436 (Automation Law), as amended by RA No. 9369, which states that the poll body should make the source code available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review of it.
“This statutory provision requires the respondent Commission (Comelec) to obtain the source code from the computerized voting machines to be used in the May 13, 2013 national and local elections, and to allow political parties, candidates, and concerned entities to review the source code prior to the said elections,” the petition read.
Petitioners warned that the credibility of the May polls is at stake, especially that 10 days before the elections, the source code is still not in the possession of Comelec.
“When the electorate seriously doubts the credibility of the election, the situation is ripe for social unrest. That is precisely what happened to the 1986 special presidential and vice presidential [elections].
But the Comelec, early Monday said the source code will finally be available after the legal dispute between Dominion Voting Systems, which owns the technology, and Smartmatic was settled.