Manila Standard : Comelec asked to lift restrictions on local source code review

News & Interviews
7 September 2021

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

A group of Information Technology experts on Tuesday asked the Commission on Elections to remove the so-called “Non-Disclosure Agreement” in the guidelines for Local Source Code Review (LSCR) as it erodes confidence in the country’s Automated Election System.

Leo Querubin, chairman of the Philippine Computer Society Foundation (PCSF) said Comelec’s decision to include an NDA is “inconsistent’ with the objective to build public trust, promote transparency and build confidence in the AES.

In an advisory released last month, Comelec invited stakeholders to submit their applications online from Aug. 16 to Sept. 10 through forms available in the poll body’s official website.

The LSCR provides interested parties an opportunity to inspect and examine the “source code” of the Automated Election System. Source codes are human readable instructions that define what a computer will do.

Political parties or coalition of parties registered and/or accredited by the Comelec, including parties and organizations registered under the Omnibus Election Code and the party-list system of representation are allowed to participate in the review.

Also included are known IT groups from the IT community recommended by the Comelec Advisory Council and/or the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Meanwhile, Comelec on Tuesday reiterated its call for parties to submit their applications to participate in the conduct of the source code review.

“We once again call on election stakeholders to proactively take part in scrutinizing the technology and studying the system that will be used in the May 9, 2022 polls. This activity is a key component of the Commission on Elections’ commitment in promoting transparency and building public confidence and trust in the electoral process,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement.

Jimenez made the call after the poll body received “too few” applications for the measure.

Pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 10712, the deadline for submission of applications is on Sept. 10.

The online application form for the LSCR observer’s accreditation form may be accessed through this link: https://forms.office.com/r/du78h28jQP

The Poll Automation Law mandates Comelec to make the source code of the AES technology available and open to any interested party or group for their own review.