Philippine Supreme Court compels Comelec to disclose details of preparations

19:42, May 06, 2010      

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The Philippine Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disclose the details of its preparations for the May 10 elections, amid rising fears that the country's first automatic elections could fail and trigger deep political chaos.

In a 20-page decision penned by Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the high court said the Comelec cannot shirk its constitutional duty to disclose fully to the public the complete details of all information relating to its preparations for the 10 May 2010 elections without violating the Constitution and relevant laws.

Three magistrates dissented. They are: Associate Justices Renato C. Corona, Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., and Roberto A. Abad.

The high court ordered specific actions from the Comelec "which by necessity must be disclosed" before the elections.

It said the Comelec should disclose: the nature and security of all equipment and devices, including their hardware and software components; the source code for review by interested parties; the terms and protocols of the random manual audit; certification from the Technical Evaluation Committee that the entire Automated Election System is fully functional and that a continuity plan is already in place; the certification protocol and the actual certification issued by the Department of Science and Technology that the 240,000 Board of Election Inspectors are trained to use the system.

The decision is immediately executory.

Filipinos are preparing for a historic election in which they will vote by using machines for the first time. More than 82,000 automated machines will be used across the country with results expected to be known in just two days instead of several weeks under the former hand-counted manual system.

But electricity supply problems, data transmission complications, the reliability of the machines themselves and the potential for the system to be manipulated could lead to a failure of elections, analysts said.

The automated polls are being introduced to reduce the risk of cheating, which has plagued elections in the past, as well as to make the process of counting 50 million votes more reliable and efficient.

But if machines break down or information cannot be transmitted, there may be no clear winner within 48 hours as planned, with some saying the confusion could last for months.

Source: Xinhua


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