Comelec: Not all critics want source code review

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2013 05:43 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2013 01:45 AM

MANILA – Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez on Wednesday said the poll body's resolution screening groups who want to conduct their source code review of the automated election system is meant to shield the system from fault finders.

Jimenez said not all critics have an interest in the source code review.

"Well, just because they’re critics doesn’t mean they have an interest the law contemplates. All we did is make sure only legit reviewers are allowed to review, they have demonstrable interest," said Jimenez.

“If you give the code to people who are not qualified or out to find something they don't understand. You have the effect where the credibility of the election is undermined,” he added.

Nevertheless, Jimenez advises groups who may be excluded to just partner with the accredited citizens' arms of the Comelec who are allowed to conduct their own source code review.

Jimenez, meantime, defended the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting's (PPCRV) accreditation as a citizens' arm who is eligible to conduct their own source code review.

Jimenez said that while the group is church-based, it does not push a religious agenda.

"They push a political reform agenda, kaya nga responsible voting. It’s coincidental they have roots in the church,” he said.
 
In Resolution 9651, the Comelec said:
 
"For this purpose, the following shall not be allowed to conduct a review of the source code:

a. any religious sect or denomination, organization or association, organized for religious purposes;

b. any foreign party or organization;

c. any group or organization which is receiving monetary or any form of financial support from any foreign government, or foreign political party, foundation, or organization, whether directly or through any of its officers or members or indirectly through third  parties."

Previously, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes accused watchdog AES Watch of being foreign funded in at least one hearing of the joint congressional oversight committee.

Te poll chief had previously rebutted criticisms of AES Watch on the poll body's preparations for the automated elections, as well as the failure of the Comelec to make the PCOS source code available to review by the political parties and interest groups.

AES Watch has been advocating an open election system as an alternative to the Smartmatic PCOS machines.
 
The resolution says only the following may be accredited by the Comelec for source code review:

  1. interested political party which means a political party, sectoral party or coalition of parties duly registered and/or accredited by the Comelec
     
  2. independent candidates who are running for a nationwide national position
     
  3. interested group which means any legitimate organization or group duly accredited by the Comelec, including its duly accredited citizens' arms, which possesses the technical capability and expertise in conducting the source code review


The Comelec says that interested entities must signify their interest and submit the credentials of their source code reviewers who shall meet the following qualifications among others:

  1. must have at least a 4 year bachelors degree in any IT related field, preferably with specialization in computer systems security or cryptography;
     
  2. must have at least 2 related publications or 5 years computer systems development experience

Entities allowed to do the source code review will be compelled to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Comelec shall provide a secure and enclosed location for the source code review, which shall then have video and audio recording capability.

The source code may also not be taken out of the Comelec facility.
 
Under the automated elections law, the source codes must be opened up to review by the political parties and interest groups.

This is even if the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) source code remains in the hands of 3rd party certifier SLI Global Solutions because of the collection claims of source code owner Dominion Voting Systems and its estranged licensee, Smartmatic.

Brillantes previously pointed out that the source code of the CCS, the system which consolidates and canvasses the PCOS generated precinct election returns in the municipal, city, provincial and national levels, is already available for review.

The poll chief said that by Thursday or Friday, he will make an announcement on the fate of the PCOS source code review pending further negotiations with the warring suppliers.

Brillantes said that should SLI still not bring the source code, they will instead use Smartmatic's source code.