October Post Election Summit (PES) 2010
October 5, 2010
Club Filipino, Greennhills, San Juan, Metro Manila

TI-Philippines chair cites Comelec's lack of transparency

The chair of Transparency International (TI-Philippines), retired Judge Dolores Espanol, assailed the Comelec's lack of transparency in denying persistent requests by CenPEG and other citizens' groups and poll watchdogs to disclose vital election-related documents in connection with the May 10, 2010 automated elections. In her speech during the October PES (post-election summit) last Oct. 5, the TI-Philippines chair also called for Filipino IT role in the next elections when technology is so desired.

October PES message

Theme: “Protect Voter’s Rights, Promote Transparency and Ensure the Integrity of the Vote, Harness Filipino IT Ingenuity for Future Philippine Elections”

Good morning Organizers, ladies and gentlemen:

My assignment in this Forum is to talk about transparency. Fortunately, I need not elaborate on this topic as all of those who made presentations before me spoke of the various transparent glitches, inadequacy of preparations and violations of laws, rules and procedures that otherwise could have given the voting public a clean, honest, dependable and reliable election system. Thanks to AES watch and CenPEG for their vigilance.

With regard the need to have a Freedom of Information law, what I can say is, before its passage or our dream of it comes true, we should all be vigilant, hoping that we can address the numerous short-comings of the COMELEC – managed Automated Election System, so we may not have to repeat this problem-studded elections, which we have been experiencing year after year.

Regarding the inability of the COMELEC to provide the Source Code to AES Watch and CenPEG before and after the May 10, 2010 elections, I would like to quote the pertinent portion of the Supreme court Decision, which to my mind is very appropriate for our understanding of how important a Source Code is, as follows:

“Source code could be compared to a recipe: just as a cook follows the instructions in a recipe step-by-step, so a computer executes the sequence of instructions found in the software source code. This is a reasonable analogy, but it is also imperfect. While a good cook will use her discretion and common sense in following a recipe, a computer follows the instructions in the source code In a mechanical and unfailingly literal way; thus, while errors in a recipe might be noticed and corrected by the cook, errors in source code can be disastrous, because the code is executed by the computer exactly as written, whether that was what the programmer intended or not. xxx”

The problem we encountered in the last elections is – while we have a Pilipino recipe, we hired a Venezuelan cook!

Going to the abundance of IT talents in the country, I will talk about my experience when I was still in the Bench. If you will recall, a student enrolled in a Computer School, AMA, was working on his term paper about computer bugs or viruses. In the process, he perfected a virus called “Love Bug” that affected US military installations and agencies worldwide for several days or even weeks. Acting on this incident which pinpointed that the Philippines was the country of origin of the viruses, some NBI elements went to the Court to apply for a Search Warrant. However, in my discussion with these officers, they could not cite a specific law that the kid violated although it was established that the student was residing in Paco, Manila. With this legal impediment, I refused to issue a Search Warrant, but I assured the NBI officers and men that the moment they are able to present to me the particular law violated, I will certainly issue a search warrant to search the place of the student and the paraphernalia used in creating the virus.

I also mentioned that with what the AMA student was able to pull off, it will not be impossible for a foreign entity to employ the “Father of the Love Bug” virus for his expertise, and subsequently, I was told that he was indeed hired by a British company. Why I narrated this event to you is to show that we do not lack the IT skills and expertise needed to craft our own PCOS machine, which is the only transparent material used in the implementation of the Automated Election system contracted out to SMARTMATIC-TIM. I am referring to the shell or box of the counting machine that we rented for Php 7.2 billion.

Finally, I pray and hope that our Election Pests will be overcome by employing our own expertise from the Filipino IT Community which we have in abundance.

Thank you and may God bless us all always!

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