THE poll body will be opening the source code for review to interested organizations and political parties, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo told reporters Tuesday.

On February 1, the source code review of Systest Labs will be sent to Comelec. It will then be calling political parties on a meeting to discuss parameters on the source code review.

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Systest is a US-based company tapped by the commission to check on the source code of the software to be used for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“It will be open under certain guidelines because there are certain limitations... What's important is we will provide an opportunity and venue for interested organizations and political parties to review the code,” said Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal who also oversees the steering committee on automation.

On February 2, Comelec will do a walk-through on the source code review with the political parties, and will discuss parameters and guidelines on the actual source code review to be done on February 4.

“We would like to meet with interested political parties to discuss the ground rules on the review on what they can do,” noted Melo.

The Automated Election Watch (AES Watch), an alliance of citizens’ groups and individuals concerned with the new system, has recently released its System Trustworthiness, Accountability and Readiness (STAR) scorecard giving the poll body a “danger” rating.

The rating was due to the Comelec's failure to let the public review the source code, which, according to AES Watch, is "putting in doubt the reliability and trustworthiness of the (automated) system."

“The source code is review is basically ensuring that what will be put there is correct meaning to say if you vote for one candidate, that vote will be counted for that candidate,” explained Larrazbal.

Test on poll machines

In a related development, the one-day field test of the PCOS machines will be held today, Wednesday, in five areas of the country.

These areas include Pateros and Taguig City in the National Capital Region; Bakun, Benguet in Luzon; Naga City, Cebu in Visayas; and Lake Sebu, South Cotabato in Mindanao. One poll machine will be used per precinct in the field test.

Melo said if the field test will be just as successful as the lab test, another field test may not be performed as scheduled on Friday.

The five-day lab test of the poll machines which finished Monday showed some minor problems like formatting, the chairman added.

“Mukhang tuloy-tuloy na (automation) because all we'll be needing now will be the final field test and then the final certification (of software) of Systest and then the review and finally the certification of acceptance to be issued by the Technical Evaluation Committee,” said Melo.

After the field test, Comelec will be holding a mock elections set on February 6. Details of this are yet to be finalized.

As of January 26, the PCOS machines stored in the Laguna warehouse are 28,900. The Bureau of Customs is set to release 7,200. Another 8,000 machines are in transit and 38,100 more are with the forwarders.

Smartmatic-TIM has earlier announced that the production of machines will finish before February 14 while the shipment will end before February 21. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)