Brillantes gives up on source code review

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - With just three weeks before the May 13 elections, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes has given up on his quest to have the certified source code reviewed by political parties and the poll body’s critics.

“I’m no longer interested because it’s too late already. Election day is so close and even if they give us the source code now, it can no longer be reviewed for lack of time,” Brillantes said in an ambush interview yesterday.

The election chief had initiated a tripartite negotiation to settle the dispute between Smartmatic International Corp. and Dominion Voting System, but nothing has been achieved.

Smartmatic, which supplied the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the coming polls, had a falling out with Dominion, which owns the source code that is supposed to be used to run the machines.

This led to Dominion refusing to allow the Comelec’s third party reviewer, SLI Global Solution, to release the certified source code, the human readable instruction on how PCOS should operate.

But Brillantes assured the public that even without the source code, the PCOS machines will still run with the use of binary codes, the machine-readable instruction for the machines.

“Even before I’ve been saying we don’t need the source code to run the elections. The source code is only for the purpose of the political parties and interested groups,” Brillantes noted.

He also said that he worked to get the certified source code to deny Comelec’s critics any opportunity to question the credibility of the coming elections.

He pointed out that if having no source code is unlawful, the 2010 presidential elections should have been invalid “because no one saw the actual source code.”

“Those who would say that there is (a legal implication if we don’t have the source code), I challenge them to show me evidence,” Brillantes added.

The Comelec will also study if Smartmatic has legal liability for failing to provide them with the source code.

“But it’s not my priority now. What I’m focusing on now is the May 2013 elections. Maybe after that, I will think of the legal implications of Smartmatic’s failure to produce the source code,” Brillantes said.

Get the bribes, but vote for your chosen candidates

Brillantes also met yesterday with all regional election directors of Comelec for a “coordinating conference” to discuss the status of preparations in their respective jurisdictions and other concerns related to the elections.

During the meeting, Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca reported that  this early, she has received reports about rampant vote-buying in many parts of the country.

This prompted Brillantes to instruct the regional directors to go after people who engage in this fraudulent practice.

But the Comelec chief has some advice to voters: get the bribes, but vote for your chosen candidates.

“Should we tell the voters not to accept rice, if someone is giving them rice? Why should we tell them that? The rule is: accept all that is given to you but don’t vote for that candidate. That is the best rule,” Brillantes said.

Brillantes also said that the poll body is thinking of a strategy to lessen vote-buying in the coming elections, but he refused to provide details.

“This will involve very sensitive area of vote-buying. Something debatable and there are many constitutional issues,” he said.

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