Comelec may not use enhancements in PCOS machines
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In the absence of a certified source code, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may no longer use some enhancements in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the May polls.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said their certification covers only the enhancements for the August 2011 regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Brillantes said there are eight minor enhancements for this year’s election, but they might not be able to use them anymore since the source code for the coming polls has not been certified by the SLI Global Solutions.

“We may not be able to use it but it will not affect the elections. They are only minor enhancements,” he said.

Earlier, the Comelec chief admitted that Dominion Voting System continuously refused to give its consent to the certification of the 2013 source code by SLI.

The source code is an instruction that dictates how a computer should work. It shows if the PCOS machines have been tampered with.

Republic Act 9369 or the poll automation law requires that the source code be certified by an independent body and kept in escrow at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

But for the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg), the Comelec should not undermine the PCOS enhancements, considering the flaws and deficiencies of the machines in the 2010 polls.

“Enhancements should not be belittled. Otherwise, the Comelec may endanger the accuracy and reliability of the coming elections,” said CenPeg director for Policy Studies professor Bobby Tuazon.

CenPeg, along with other poll watchdogs like the Automated Election System Watch, is currently studying its legal options to ensure that “public interest” will not be compromised in the coming elections.

Tuazon warned that using an uncertified source code is “not compliant to law” and the Comelec might face an avalanche of electoral protests from losing candidates.

“We are also bothered that Dominion might charge the Comelec for using the system in the absence of a licensing agreement. Without a certified system, nobody is now sure of the accuracy of the elections,” he said.

Tuazon has expressed concerns over the poll body’s plan to use the 2011 system – designed and prepared for the ARMM polls – in the May 13 elections that are national in scope.

 

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