Poll software done as Comelec readies final list of 2019 bets

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2018 05:49 PM

MANILA—The official list of 2019 candidates will be released later next week to allow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to resolve pending cases against several candidates, its spokesman said Friday.

The “clean” list was supposed to be posted on the Comelec website on Saturday, a day after an Alabama-based software review firm finished creating a program for the election management system (EMS) to be used in 2019.

But several petitions remained unresolved, including those against Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, and the Cayetano couple in Taguig.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said producing the list later next week was “not expected to adversely affect” the poll body’s calendar for the midterm polls.

“This will allow pending issues related to several candidacies to be settled,” he said in a statement, “without negatively impacting the final contents of the 2019 ballot.”

PENDING PETITIONS

Two petitioners argued that Pimentel could no longer run in 2019 after assumed his first term in 2011 and won again in 2013.

The Comelec’s campaign finance office is seeking Osmeña's “perpetual disqualification” for allegedly failing twice to declare his campaign expenses.

Former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his wife Lani are under fire for running for Congress in two separate districts in Taguig.

Jimenez said pending petitions were “very few” compared to the “vast majority of candidates” in the official list.

An estimated 34,000 aspirants are vying for a total of 18,094 positions in the May elections, he said.

Votes that will be cast for candidates, who would end up losing a petition, will be considered “stray.”

“So kung may mga petitions pa na pending, basically, that would be a risk that will be run by those individuals,” Jimenez said.

‘NUISANCE’

The commission’s law department earlier sought to declare 95 candidates as “nuisance,” largely for allegedly lacking the financial capability to run a nationwide campaign. 

Lawyer Angelo De Alban on Wednesday asked the poll body to reconsider the division ruling against him.

Also included in the initial “nuisance” list were Conrado Generoso and the rest of his Katipunan party’s senatorial slate. 

Generoso served as spokesman of experts’ group, which drafted President Rodrigo Duterte’s version of a federal constitution.

DIGITAL FINGERPRINT

The building of the EMS software was livestreamed from Alabama on Friday, allowing the public to scrutinize the process led by Ryan Jackson Cobb, PV&V’s laboratory director.

The EMS contains details such as ballot design, voter information, and polling precincts.

Local source code reviewers were present at the Comelec session hall in Manila to witness the first of three “trusted build” processes to be done by the company.

Software programs for the vote-counting machines, and the consolidation and canvassing system will be built on Jan. 7 and 8 next year, said Commissioner Marlon Casquejo.

The executable file for the EMS software program was saved in sealed thumb drives, one of which will be kept in escrow at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Friday’s trusted build process also generated a hash code, which Jimenez described as a “digital fingerprint.”

This “unique” feature would tell if the program created in Alabama would be the same one to be used for the actual elections, he said.

“So mataas ang level ang confidence natin,” he said.