Gordon’s petition in SC now ‘moot and academic’

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Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.: Richard Gordon’s petition moot and academic. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Former Sen. Richard Gordon’s petition for the Supreme Court to allow political parties to review the “source code” of the automated machines to be used in next week’s midterm elections is now “moot and academic,” Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Tuesday.

The source code is the readable computer program that runs the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Brillantes said the decision of Dominion Voting System Inc. to release the “source code” to be used by the 78,000 PCOS machines rendered moot Gordon’s petition.

“(W)hat we will do probably is appear before the Supreme Court and convince the petitioner not to proceed since the source code will be available once it arrives,” he said.

Brillantes said the Comelec expected Dominion officials to arrive with the source code either Tuesday night or Wednesday. The Supreme Court has set oral arguments on the Gordon petition this afternoon.

“When I read the petition, I said, ‘Even if the Supreme Court strangles us, what would we release if the source code is not here?’” the Comelec chairman said.

The review of the source code for the 2013 midterm elections was delayed after Dominion refused to release it after it had a falling out with Smartmatic International, the provider of the PCOs machines.

But with Dominion agreeing to release the source code, Brillantes said either he or Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza would appear at the high court on Wednesday to convince Gordon to withdraw his petition.

Legal liability

However, critics of the Comelec were not appeased by Brillantes’ announcement that the source code would be available for review by political parties after the elections.

“The last-minute disclosure of the source code, even if true, will not extricate Comelec and Smartmatic from legal liability,” said Bobby Tuazon, Automated Election System (AES) Watch co-convenor.

“They should have revealed the source code last year when Comelec decided to reuse the unreliable Smartmatic-marketed technology to allow political parties and other interested groups to conduct an independent review of the software program as a matter of right,” he added.

Tuazon said the late release of the source code was a violation of the country’s election automation law “and is further aggravated by Mr. Brillantes’ arbitrary decision that the review will have to wait after the May 13 elections.”

Like piece of candy

“Is this a piece of candy to be given out just to appease the ‘noisy critics’ who persistently demanded the release of the source code as a vital security safeguard to ensure the proper operation of the PCOS program?” Tuazon said.

Without a review of the source code before Election Day, AES Watch said the Comelec should hold a parallel manual count “to ensure the PCOS software will count right and the machines will operate according to the law.”

“We just cannot trust the machines to count accurately and do their job properly, given the countless glitches from wrong counting, mismatches and erratic transmissions,” Tuazon said.

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