GORDON WANTS SOURCE CODE REVIEWED
Senatorial bet Richard Gordon led petitioners yesterday to ask the Supreme Court to restrain the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from removing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the May 13 elections from the polling precincts to prevent possible tampering as political parties and technology experts begin a review of the PCOS source code.
Gordon is a candidate of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and was at 13th place when the Comelec started a series of proclamation for the 12 senatorial winners despite the canvass of votes not having been completed.
In a 14-page urgent omnibus motion with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, Gordon also asked the high tribunal to direct Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to comply with his earlier commitment to provide the petitioners or their designated representatives or information technology experts with a complete compilable digital copy of the source code for the automated election system.
In the petition, the SC was asked to issue a TRO to stop the poll body from removing the PCOS machines from their respective precincts, schoolhouses or present whereabouts and transferring them to the Comelec warehouse “to prevent anybody from tampering with the components, contents and software encoded into the said machine.”
Gordon, author of Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Elections System Law, said a restraining order is needed to preserve their legal right to determine whether or not the source code loaded into the PCOS machines are identical to the source code provided by the Comelec.
“As a necessary corollary to this Honorable Supreme Court’s directive for the Respondent to effect the Petitioners’ fair examination and review of the Source Code, it is imperative that the Petitioners and their designated representatives likewise be
granted an opportunity to ascertain that the Source Code to be provided by the Respondent for the automated election system of the 13 May 2013 national and local elections are indeed the same Source Code compiled and encoded into the PCOS machines and the other hardware components of the said automated election system,” Gordon said in the petition.
“Thus, it is imperative for the Respondent to produce and make available to the Petitioners and their designated representatives a COMPLETE COMPILABLE COPY of the Source Code duly recorded on standard optical or similar commercially-available digital media. A ‘compilable copy’ of computer software is a digital copy of computer software that can be readily transformed, encoded, or “compiled” into machine-readable binary code and electronically tested,” he added.
Gordon stressed that it is imperative for the Supreme Court to stop the Comelec or any other party from handling the PCOS machines and possibly tampering with the program installed in them since it would render futile a review and comparison of the source code.
“A review of the source code would show any mismatch between the respective hash codes generated from the Source Code and those from the PCOS machines’ embedded software. It would show possible tampering or the unlawful adulteration of the Source Code prior to their loading into the PCOS machines used for the 13 May 2013 national and local elections,” the petitioner said.
“If the evidence represented by the software actually embedded into the PCOS machines are not preserved through the proper injunctive writs from this Honorable Tribunal, the Respondent may just remove the actual Source Code loaded into the PCOS machines and erase whatever anomaly that it or other unscrupulous individuals may have committed to corrupt the automated election system and subvert the true sovereign will of the people during the 13 May 2013 national and local elections,” he added.
Gordon also underscored that the high court’s “intervention would serve the overriding need for the electorate in general, acting through interested political parties, to review the Source Code and ensure their integrity.
“Doing so would likewise serve as an effective deterrent against the Respondent as well as its present and future leadership from violating their Constitutional oath to strictly enforce and faithfully observe Philippine election laws,” he pointed out.
The SC held an oral argument last May 8 in response to Gordon’s petition for mandamus asking the High Tribunal to compel the Comelec to allow the political parties to examine and review the source code, underscoring the importance of the review to ensure honest, clean and credible elections.
He also stressed that RA 9369 clearly mandates the Comelec to promptly make available the source code of the AES technology to be used and make it open to any interested political parties or groups which may conduct their own thereof.
During the oral argument, Brillantes committed to make available, open and allow Gordon and other interested parties to inspect, review, test and examine the source code of the May 13 elections. However, Brillantes appears to be reneging on his commitment after he failed to respond or act on petitioners’ request to review the source code that were made after the oral argument.
Telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Co. (PLDT) again rebutted Comelec chairman Sixto Brilliantes Jr. for claiming that about 18,000 or 25 percent out of the 78,000 PCOS machines were unable to transmit election returns because these were deployed in areas that did not have a cellular signal and as a result of network congestion or “heavy traffic”.
PLDT said in a statement that the combined networks of Smart and Sun have a signal in every city and municipality in the country.
It added in the 2010 elections, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) servers received election returns from 80 percent of the PCOS machines within 12 hours from the closing of the polling precincts. “Eventually, 92 percent of PCOS machines transmitted results,” it said.
The PLDT said its combined network did not suffer congestion, or heavy traffic at any point throughout the election process, “including the first six hours after the closing of the polling precincts when traffic from PCOS machines was at its peak.”
“Traffic generated by the PCOS machines did not pose a problem for our cellular networks because each transmission was relatively small – only about 80 kb – and was easily and quickly delivered by our data network,” it added.
PLDT said that “as per the requirements of the COMELEC,” the data transmissions generated by the PCOS machines were coursed through a virtual private network dedicated to handling this traffic.
“This means that the PCOS data were not mixed with the regular voice and data traffic of the network, further ensuring that the transmissions would be delivered quickly,” it said.
PLDT earlier said from a purely telecoms standpoint, “there is no reason why a similar, if not better, result should have been achieved in 2013.”
Catholic bishops also supported the call for the formation of a truth commission that would investigate the reported glitches in the just concluded May 13 mid-term polls.
Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said an investigation should be conducted to maintain the credibility and integrity of electoral exercises in the country.
“I think it would be good to have one truth commission to investigate the issue to maintain the credibility and integrity of the electoral process,” he said.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo is also in favor of creating an investigating body.
“Yes, I am in favor of a truth commission to investigate recent poll irregularities so that justice may be achieved,” he said.
Asked if the Church should be part of the truth commission, he said Catholic lay leaders should represent the Church.
Earlier, Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas called on the government to create an “elections truth commission” to investigate reported errors and irregularities in the last automated elections.
“We call on the government to create an independent investigative body to look into the automated election system that was plagued by numerous technical glitches and might have disenfranchised millions of voters,” he said.
Villanueva ran in the senatorial race but did not make it to the top 12 ranking.
Saturday, 25 May 2013 08:00 Published in Nation
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada lauded the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) for defining the mechanisms for the protection, rescue and rehabilitation of domestic workers in the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) of the Batas Kasambahayor Kasambahay Law.
“Apart from ensuring the promotion of overall welfare and protection of around two million domestic workers in the country, we aim to lay out the general policies and put up systems for the immediate rescue and relief of abused kasambahay (domestic workers) that we sadly hear about every now and then,” Estrada, the author and main sponsor of the law, said.
Estrada cited the case of kasambahay Bonita Baran who was maltreated by her employer and had no clear idea where she will go for assistance and what she will do to get help.
Estrada, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, launched a Senate inquiry into her case and incorporated its findings to the final version of the measure.
Estrada hopes that with the release and publication of the IRR of the Batas Kasambahay, cases of maltreatment and abuse will be immediately and effectively responded to, and be given proper and just conclusion.
Rule X of the IRR prescribes that any abused kasambahay shall be immediately rescued by a municipal or city social welfare officer in coordination with the concerned barangay officials and law enforcement personnel.
“Abuse” refers to any act or a series of acts committed by an employer or any member of his/her household against any kasambahay which results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or economic abuse (e.g. withholding of wages), including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
Any act of abuse committed against a kasambahay may be reported to any official of the barangay where the abuse occurred, any social worker, any police officer from the Women and Children Protection Desks, or any officer of the Public Employment Service Office (PESO).
Section 5, Rule X of the IRR also states that “At all times, the rescue team shall ensure the full protection of the rights of the abused kasambahay and the accused while under its custody and control.”
Moreover, no action or suit shall be brought in any court or before any authority against any social worker, law enforcement officer, person acting in compliance with the lawful order from any of the above for lawful acts done during an authorized rescue operation or investigation or prosecution of an abused case involving a kasambahay.
Meanwhile, the local social welfare and development offices (LSWDOs) shall make available the following services for the abused kasambahay: temporary shelter, counselling, free legal services, medical or psychological services, livelihood and skills training, among others.
As a way of monitoring, there shall also be a registration system for kasambahay.
Section 1 of Rule IX states that every employer shall register a kasambahay under his/her employment in the barangay where his/her residence is located. The barangay chairman, together with SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth representatives, shall conduct a common registration of all kasambahay nationwide. A start-up registration shall be held in the city or municipal hall or plaza.
Lastly, the IRR also stipulates mechanism for settlement and disposition of labor-related disputes.
Section 1 of Rule XI states that all labor-related disputes shall be filed before the DoLE Field/Provincial/Regional Offices having jurisdiction over the workplace and shall go through the 30-day mandatory conciliation.
Conciliation, an alternative dispute settlement mode, is a non-litigious, less expensive and expeditious mechanism which assists contending parties towards reaching their own mutually-acceptable settlement to the labor dispute.
Republic Act (RA) 10361 otherwise known as Batas Kasambahay was signed into law last Jan. 18. The same date will now be known as “Araw ng mga Kasambahay.”
The DoLE published last May 19 the implementing rules and regulations pursuant to RA 10361 or the “Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of the Domestic Workers.”
The IRR will take effect 15 days after its publication.
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