Akbayan Party-list once again criticized COMELEC for the apparent lack of readiness to hold automated national elections following a hearing at the Lower House and COMELEC’s announcement that the poll automation software’s source code will be made available to the public on February 2.

“If we were to adhere to the schedule the COMELEC announced, we will have some 2 days to ‘walkthrough’ the source code, when an in-depth review of it would take 2-3 months,” Akbayan Party-list Representative Walden Bello pointed out. “How effective can the evaluation of independent groups and political parties be if we’re given such little time? It’s almost as if COMELEC is deliberately hiding other glitches in the software by limiting the time to review it.”

COMELEC announced that they will invite interested parties to view the software source code on February 2 and proceed with its installation into the PCOS machines on February 4.

“Akbayan, along with other groups, have been asking to see the source code for some time now. We wanted to have ample time to go through it and ensure that our elections will not fall prey to hackers with political motivations,” Bello added.

According to Section 12 of the Automated Elections Law,

"Once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review thereof."

“We are too close to election day to have sufficient reviewing and then updating of the source code that will effectively run the entire elections,” Bello continued. “How can we ensure the integrity of the polls?”

House Committee on Oversight hearing on poll automations on Wednesday further exposed the logistical and technical problems that automated elections will face, to which COMELEC’s standard response was that there’s a contingency plan of having 30% of elections done manually in May.

Bello continued to warn about two possible “nightmare” scenarios. “One is having a lot of voters come out on election day only for the machines to fail, or, two, that only a few voters come because the rest are scared of the machines,” he said.

“The national elections will only be successful if the COMELEC is able to restore people’s trust in the machines and the process,” Bello concluded.