Impeachment of Comelec execs sought

A LAWMAKER yesterday described the Supreme Court ruling on the automated election system (AES) source code case was a “belated and painful victory for transparency in the country’s fledgling automated elections.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, however, said it is “better late than never” to hold some Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials  accountable for the apparent violation of the election code.

“While the SC decision is indeed a victory for all the interested parties and the Filipino people, the belated issuance makes it a painful and hollow one since the subject elections already pushed through,” Casiño said.

He added that the officials – including commissioners – who prevented the release of the AES source code “can and should be held liable” for their actions by filing cases at the Office of the Ombudsman or by initiating an impeachment procedure against them.

In a unanimous en banc decision issued on September 21, the high court granted the petition of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) for mandamus and directed the Comelec “to make the source codes for the AES technologies it selected for implementation pursuant to RA 9369 immediately available to CenPEG and all other interested parties or groups for independent review.”

CenPEG is a policy research institution based in the University of the Philippines.

It filed a petition for mandamus with the high court for the release of the election software on Oct. 5, 2009 after Comelec refused to make the code public and later allowed interested parties to see the code in strict, controlled conditions.

The source code is the human-readable representation of the instructions that control the operations of everything that the computers do – from counting, canvassing and storage of all data server machines used for the elections.

It is the master blueprint that reveals and determines how the machine will behave and if it follows Philippine election laws. Its being made available to the public is among the safeguards meant to ensure a transparent and credible automated elections.

Casiño likewise expressed support for the current move by CENPEG to get 21 other documents from the Comelec in order for an independent assessment of the AES to be conducted.

“The comprehensive independent review of the source code would show to the public whether the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM, its outsource partner in the last elections, were compliant with the country’s election laws,” he said. D’Jay Lazaro

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