Manila Bulletin - Smartmatic will have no role in conduct of May 13 midterm elections – Comelec

News & Interviews
15 April 2019

By Leslie Aquino | Manila Bulletin

Unlike in the past elections, technology provider Smartmatic International will have minimal participation in the May 13 midterm polls.

In a press briefing, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said Smartmatic’s only participation in the midterm elections is to provide technical support.

“The entire operation is Comelec. So we ensured that Smartmatic is not even in our back during the elections. But if there is a problem in their system and that is the time we will call them,” said the poll official who is also the chairman of the Comelec local source code review (LSCR) committee.

“We already purchased the machines and part of the contract is to provide the enhancement that we requested. So after that, they have no more participation,” added Casquejo.

The poll body had earlier decided to purchase the vote counting machines used in the May 2016 elections.

Meanwhile, local source code reviewers lauded the Comelec for giving them “unprecedented” access in reviewing the automated election system (AES) to be used in the upcoming polls.

“We’d like to commend the Comelec because this is the first time that we were given unprecedented access. So you can clearly see the commitment of the agency towards ensuring that the elections will be a transparent one. That is a great improvement from the previous elections that we’ve had so we are really grateful,” Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) consultant Gadburt Mercado said.

For the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) Representative Alex Ramos this was a big improvement.

“From original 3 codes up for review, we were able to go up to 11 codes already. So far, we have a better understanding as to how secure it is,” he said.

“The first thing we noticed is certain changes, an improvement from previous elections. First, there are a lot of issues regarding the system, procedures that we are hoping will be implemented this coming election. Some have been addressed, some are still work in progress but everything is geared toward improving the performance of our AES,” added Ramos.

The source code is defined as the human readable instructions that define what the computer equipment will do.

Based on Republic Act No. 9369, the commission shall “promptly make the source code available and open to any interested party or group, which may conduct their own review.”