Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr yesterday admitted that his critics were partially right in saying that the poll body has not fully complied with the election law but insisted that the legality of the elections in May will be put to the test.
Brillantes said the statement issued on Sunday by the Centre for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) that the Comelec had failed to acquire the source code for the upcoming polls was not accurate.
“If there is no source code, yes, the election results will be null and void. But the problem is, we have the source code. Who says there is no source code?” the poll chief asked.
Brillantes maintained that the source code has been checked by their third party reviewer, SLI Global Solutions, but its certification can’t be released because Dominion Voting Systems has blocked its release following its legal dispute with Smartmatic International.
“We have a source code reviewed by the third party certifier and counter-checked by the Technical Evaluation Committee. We completed it. That is the requirement and the elections will go on,” the Comelec official said.
He admitted that what the Comelec can’t meet is the provision allowing political parties and other interested groups to conduct their own review of the source code.
But Brillantes said they are not violating the Poll Automation Law because such a requirement is not mandatory.
“The review by political parties and the review by interested groups are not mandatory requirements to validate the elections. Otherwise, we give people like CenPEG and political parties the authority to determine whether we should have elections or not,” he said.
Republic Act 9369 requires that there should be successful completion of a source code review; a certification that the source code is kept in escrow with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and a certification that the source code reviewed is the same as that used by the equipment.
The Poll Automation Law also provides that the Comelec should make the source code “available and open to any interested political party or groups, which may conduct their own review.”
On Sunday, CenPEG said the absence of the source code would put serious questions on the validity of the poll results since the system to be used by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines are not available for their review.
Brillantes’ sudden claim yesterday that the Comelec has acquired the source code surprised many because only last week, the poll chief admitted that he already gave up on acquiring the source code certification because of time constraints.
Brillantes belittled his critics, saying many of them are not qualified to argue about the matter.
“I think the people talking now, like the people from CenPEG, Namfrel, Kontra Daya, all of these are not lawyers. I’m a lawyer. That’s why I don’t discuss with them anymore since we are talking of legal issues here, legality of the elections. This is no longer about IT (information technology),” he said.
Bobby Tuazon, CenPEG director, on Sunday said the elections may be nullified for lack of a source code and licence for the automation system and the disabling of safety measures of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
Tuazon also cited the glitches observed during the mock polls held by the Comelec, including transmission errors and failure to read some ballots.
Last week, Malacanang also said that the upcoming elections can proceed even without the review of the source code.