No guarantee, but Bautista vows to avoid past mistakes
DESPITE vast powers and logistics at its disposal, Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials on Thursday said they could not guarantee clean, honest and orderly elections next year.
“How can you guarantee clean, orderly and honest elections? But we will do our best,” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista told reporters.
At Comelec’s disposal during the elections are billions of pesos in funding.
It also has the authority to deputize the police and the military as well as other government agencies, ban the carrying of guns and regulate the conduct of campaign and other election-related activities, impose a ban on the sale of liquors, transfer government personnel and suspend public works, among other powers.
Bautista said the poll body is doing everything to make the 2016 political exercise transparent and credible, among other measures, to avoid a repeat of problems that cropped up in the 2010 and 2013 elections.
The Comelec, he added, has also scheduled an earlier local source code review for interested political parties and other legitimate organizations accredited by the poll body, including duly accredited citizens’ arms, information technology experts and educational institutions.
Bautista explained that the conduct of a local source code review “seeks to provide
interested parties and groups an opportunity to inspect the source codes in the Automated Elections System [AES].”
Covered in the review are the source codes of the Vote Counting Machine (VCM), the Consolidated Canvassing System (CCS) and the Election Management System (EMS).
“The source code review shall involve two phases. The first phase covers the review of the baseline source codes. The second phase covers the review of the source codes after the systems have been customized and configured according to the preference and needs of the commission,” according to Comelec Resolution 9987.
Bautista said that to increase transparency, the Comelec will conduct a base source code review before October 15 and another one next year after it has been customized in accordance with the needs of the poll body.
The Comelec earlier signed a $766,000 or P35-million contract with SLI Global Solution for testing and review of the source code, a voting software program customized for Philippine elections that would be installed in the OMR (Optical Mark Reader) counting machines.
As certifier, SLI will make sure that the source code submitted by Smartmatic, the OMR
supplier, meets specifications and performance and adheres to deliver what the Comelec needs.
SLI president and chief executive officer Mark Phillips said part of their job is the so-called secure code review, which would protect the system against hacking or unwanted entries.
SLI, a US-based company, is the same firm that conducted the source code review during the 2013 elections.
Bautista said the Comelec would give all election stakeholders enough time to scrutinize and test the source code, unlike in 2013 when the customized review was done one week before the polls.
Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the source code is basically an independent auditor to ensure that system is running free from possible malicious lines.
“Basically, the source code review will ensure how the system will run. To make sure one vote for Mar [Roxas] is one vote for Mar, one vote for [Jejomar] Binay is one vote for Binay, not one vote equals five. One person, one vote,” Lim said.
The Comelec will use some 5,000 to 10,000 units of the original 82,000 old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) counting machines to supplement the 93,997 units of brand-new OMRs for use in the 2016 elections.