Supreme Court junks suit vs Comelec

July 01, 2019
Supreme Court

THE Supreme Court has denied a consolidated petition that sought to review the source code used by the Commission on Elections during the May 2013 national elections.

In a 30-page decision, the SC dismissed for being moot and academic the consolidated petitions filed by Senator Richard Gordon and poll watchdog Bagumbayan-VNP Movement Inc. (Bagumbayan) seeking issuance of an order compelling the Comelec to make the source code available for review.

The SC took judicial notice of Comelec’s Resolution No. 10423 promulgated on September 21, 2018, modifying the qualifications for the source code review for the 2019 elections as well as providing for several steps before an interested party may actually get around to reviewing the source code.

“As this Resolution No. 10423 governs the conduct of the (2019) elections and any automated election from here on unless it, itself, is superseded by another, the cause of action of the petitioners has ceased to exist,” read the ruling.

The SC also cited the poll body’s other resolutions for the conduct of the May 2019 polls that “removed the justiciable controversy existing in the consolidated petitions especially as it is these resolutions that now govern the conduct of the specific items being assailed.”

The SC also rejected for lack of merit the plea of petitioners to compel the Comelec to use digital signatures in the electronic election returns and provide for the basic security safeguards, which include the source code review, vote verification, and random audit in compliance with Republic Act 9369 (Automated Election System Law).

In the same ruling, the SC likewise junked the prayer of petitioners to cite former Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. in contempt for his failure to comply with his commitments to the Court in the May 8, 2013 oral arguments to make the source code available for review and to grant more time to the parties to comply with the requirements to do so.