For transparent elections in May 2010: CenPeg vs. Comelec: Release the Source Code now (“source codes” are instructions to the computer)
Source codes are defined as follows:
Quote “26.1. Section 2(12) of RA 9369 defines the Source Code thus: “12. Source Code – human readable instructions that define what the computer equipment will do.” (from the CenPeg Petition for Mandamus, by Attorneys Pimentel and Joaquin) :
In other words, in simpler terms, the “source code” would spell out, in a way understandable to ordinary people, the set of instructions programmed in the software; these instructions show what the computer would do with our votes.
CenPeg (Center for People Empowerment in Governance) had asked the Supreme Court to compel the Comelec to immediately release the source code of the automated election system; the Comelec had responded that it would do so after Feb 6, when the system had been certified by an “international certifier” it has chosen.
Cenpeg can either wait for a motion/ pleading from the Comelec lawyers; the Comelec lawyers would probably say that since the Comelec would release the source code on Feb. 6, the issue was now resolved (“mootness”); CenPeg can either wait for such a motion or pleading to respond to; or CenPeg can pre-empt by pointing out in a supplemental petition that Feb. 6 is too late and would render the Petition and the objective of being able to review the source code moot and academic.
Here are excerpts from the Petition for Mandamus of CenPeg (underscoring supplied):
Quote “28. It is necessary to review the source code.
Quote “28.1. Since the source code is, simply, a set of instructions which the computer will follow, the public has the right to know if the
instructions given to the computers will promote free, orderly,
honest, peaceful, credible and informed elections and will ensure
the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot and all election, consolidation and transmission in order that the process shall be transparent and credible and that the results shall be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people.
Quote “28.2. The purpose of the review is to ascertain that the software:
Quote “28.2.1. may not be used to corrupt and thwart the genuine will of the people;
Quote “28.2.2. faithfully implements the provisions of the Automated Election System Law (RA-9369) and the COMELEC Terms of Reference, that is, does not contain glaring and serious programming errors or bugs;
Quote “28.2.3. uses safe programming practices like stack overflow
checking, buffer overflow checking, proper memory allocation and deallocation, proper signal handling, etc.;and,
Quote “28.2.4. will be executing under proper environment settings that are not prone to easy manipulation nor vulnerable to malicious external attacks
Quote “28.3. The review will reveal if the software to be used is not xxx vulnerable to malicious codes and bugs which may be used to corrupt the thwart the genuine will of the people.
Quote “29. Time is of the essence in the review of the source code.
Quote “29.1. The reviewers will need sufficient time to first familiarize themselves with the program structure and architecture.
Quote “29.2. The reviewers will then review each line of code. For the AES (automated election system) technology selected by COMELEC to be implemented, it is estimated that there will be One Hundred Thousand (100,000) lines of code to be reviewed and analyzed.
Quote “29.3. In order to sufficiently review a source code of such magnitude, it will take at least three (3) months for a team of programmers working full time.
Quote “29.4. Should there by any anomalies discovered, more time must be allotted to remedy the same.
Quote “29.5. Any remedy must also be reviewed.
Quote “29.6. There are only seven (7) months until the May 10, 2009 Synchronized National and Local Elections.
Quote “The delay and/or refusal by COMELEC to make the source code available have no basis and are devoid of merit. The consequence of such delay and/or refusal is none other than the erosion of the trust and confidence in the very process which the State declares to promote.
Quote “WHEREFORE, premises considered, petitioner respectfully prays that this
Quote “Honorable Court immediately direct:
Quote “1. COMELEC to immediately make the source codes available to petitioner and all other interested parties; and,
Quote “2. COMELEC, and any other person acting under its authority, to cease and desist from unnecessarily dictating upon, interfering with, much less preventing, petitioner and other interested parties in the conduct of the review, which would tend to make such review inutile.
Quote “Petitioner likewise prays for such other reliefs this Honorable Court may deem just and equitable under the premises.
San Juan, Metro Manila for the City of Manila. 01 October 2009.” Closed quote.
AQUILINO LL. PIMENTEL III
Counsel for CenPEG
JOAQUIN ADARLO & CAOILE LAW OFFICES
Collaborating Counsel for CenPEG
FRANCISCO G. JOAQUIN, III
Co-counsel for CenPeg