SC dismisses pleas for review of 2013 PCOS source code

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SC dismisses pleas for review of 2013 PCOS source code
The SC held an oral argument on May 8, 2013 in response to Sen. Richard Gordon's petition for mandamus asking the high court to compel Comelec to allow the political parties to examine and review the source code.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court junked Sen. Richard Gordon’s petition asking it to compel the Commission on Elections to review source code for voting machines in the 2013 elections, saying it is now moot and academic.

The tribunal, in a full court session, unanimously dismissed the 2013 plea filed by Gordon and Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines Movement Inc. that accused the Comelec of not complying with the provisions of the Automated Election System law.

READ: Gordon seeks source code review

In 2013, Gordon, who ran for senator but lost, asked the SC to issue a halt order to enjoin the Comelec from removing the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and transferring them to a warehouse to prevent tampering with the components, contents and software encoded into the machines.

The senator urged the tribunal to order former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to provide accredited parties with a complete digital copy of the source code for the 2013 automated electons.

In ruling on the pleas, the SC took judicial notice of Comelec Resolution No. 10423, promulgated on Sept. 21, 2018 that modified the qualifications of source code review for the 2019 elections.

“As this Resolution No. 10423 governs the conduct of the [2019] elections, and any automated election from here on unless it, itself, is superseded by another, the cause of action of the petitioners has ceased to exist,” the ruling, penned by Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr.

The court also took noted several resolutions later issued by the Comelec that “remove[d] the justiciable controversy existing in the consolidated petition.”

“The Court rules that the electronic transmission through the method promulgated by the Comelec, as well as the authentication of the results, are valid under the law,” the ruling read.

The SC also dismissed the petition for indirect contempt against Brillantes due to utter lack of merit.

The SC also junked the petition to declare Brillantes in contempt for allegedly failing to comply with the tribunal’s resolution issued after the oral arguments.

"In deciding that Chairman Brillantes is not liable for indirect contempt, the Court focuses solely on the undertakings that were directly promised to the Court, not those which the petitioner feels were promised," the Court said.

Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Francis Jardeleza took no part in the voting as they were on leave during the voting.

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