Gordon tells Comelec: Don’t remove PCOS
MANILA, Philippines—Senatorial candidate Richard Gordon and his party, the Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines has asked the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from removing the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used in the May 13 elections from the polling precincts where they were stationed for the recent poll exercise.
In an urgent omnibus motion with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO), Gordon asked the high tribunal to direct Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. to comply with the latter’s earlier commitment to provide the petitioners or their designated representatives or information technology experts with a “complete compilable digital copy” of the source code for the automated election system that was used in the May 13 polls.
Gordon also asked for the issuance of a TRO to stop the poll body from removing the PCOS machines from their respective precincts, schoolhouses or present whereabouts and transferring them to the Comelec warehouse to prevent any tampering with the components, contents and software encoded into the gadgets.
The former senator, author of Republic Act No. 9369, or the Automated Elections System Law, said the issuance of a TRO would preserve the petitioners’ legal right to determine whether or not the source code encoded or loaded into the PCOS machines is identical to the source code to be provided by the Comelec to the petitioners.
Gordon is apprehensive that if the evidence represented by the software actually embedded in the PCOS machines is not preserved through an order of the court, the Comelec may just remove the actual source code loaded into the PCOS machines “and erase whatever anomaly that it or other unscrupulous individuals may have committed to corrupt the automated election system and subvert the true sovereign will of the people during the 13 May 2013 national and local elections.”
He said the high court’s intervention “would serve the overriding need for the electorate in general, acting through interested political parties, to review the source code and ensure their integrity.”
“Doing so would likewise serve as an effective deterrent against the respondent as well as its present and future leadership from violating their constitutional oath to strictly enforce and faithfully observe Philippine election laws,” he said.
The Supreme Court held oral arguments last May 8 in response to Gordon’s earlier petition for mandamus asking the high tribunal to compel the Comelec to allow the political parties to examine and review the source code, underscoring the importance of the review to ensure honest, clean and credible elections.
Gordon said RA 9369 required the Comelec to promptly make available the source code of the automated election system technology to be used, and make it open to any interested political parties or groups which may conduct their own examination.
During the oral arguments, Brillantes committed to make available to, and allow Gordon and other interested parties to inspect, review, test and examine the source code of the automated election system for the May 13 elections.
“However, Brillantes appears to be reneging on his commitment after he failed to respond or act on (our) request to review the source code that was made after the oral argument,” Gordon said, adding that he sent Brillantes a text message and a letter reminding the Comelec chair about his commitment.
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