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Gordon to SC: Defer 2013 polls without code review

Purple Romero
Posted on 05/08/2013 6:19 PM  | Updated 05/09/2013 4:29 PM

NO SOURCE CODE REVIEW? Gordon said then there should be no automated elections for 2013.Photo by John Javellana.NO SOURCE CODE REVIEW? Gordon said then there should be no automated elections for 2013.Photo by John Javellana.

MANILA, Philippines - Former Senator Richard Gordon told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 8, that it should compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to either postpone the 2013 automated midterm elections or make it partly manual if it does not conduct a review of the ballot counting machine's source code.

An emotional Gordon told the SC during the oral arguments on the source code review that not having the review will raise doubts on the credibility of the elections, which is set for Monday, May 13. The source code contains instructions for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines on counting and canvassing votes.

He added that the source code review is mandated in Republic Act No 9369, which amended the Automated Elections Law. Gordon authored the said law.

When asked by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno what is the "ultimate remedy" that the SC can give, Gordon said he wants the high court to mandate Comelec to "follow the law."

"We cannot inflict our people an election that is flawed!" he said, his voice cracking.

Sereno asked him if the source code review is an "indispensable" condition to the conduct of elections.

Gordon replied that Section 14 of RA 9369 states that "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, "Shall means imperative"

Justice Marvic Leonen asked him if the high court has the authority to suspend elections, to which Gordon said that the "judiciary has the capacity to make laws."

Leonen said though that this responsibility falls under Congress.

Unclear Comelec resolution

Gordon was grilled, however on why he did not apply for the source code review in March, when Comelec issued Resolution 9651, which opened to various groups the source code of another part of the automated election system.

The ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino -- members of the United Nationalist Alliance coalition (UNA) -- applied to have the source code for the consolidated canvassing system reviewed. Gordon is a senatorial candidate under UNA.

"Why didn't you make your intentions known that you want to review the source code?" Leonen asked.

Gordon said the Comelec resolution was not clear. "They can do caveats and say all political parties are hereby called -- source code is here."

He added that Comelec sent "conflicting signals" because "they never admitted they have the source code."

Brillantes Jr has said it is “too late” to allow a precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine source code review by Philippine groups after a legal battle between two international companies held it hostage for months.

Brillantes, however, told the Supreme Court on May 8 that he will show the source code to all interested groups on May 9.

He clarified though that he does not have it yet. The Denver-based SLI Global Solutions, an independent group which reviewed it, and Dominion would hand it over to Comelec on May 9.

Dominion owns the system that Smartmatic used. Its legal dispute with Smartmatic, the Venezuelan firm that provided the PCOS machines in the 2010 elections, prevented the release of the source code for review to Philippine groups.

Sereno said though that Gordon may not be able to apply for the source code review because Resolution 9651 specified that only "political, sectoral, or coalition of parties registered and/or accredited by the Comelec" and "independent candidates running for a nationwide national position" could apply.

Sereno said that, according to Comelec, Gordon's Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines is not an accredited political party. Gordon also told the court he is not an independent candidate. - Rappler.com

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