Prof. Rom Feria
rpf.list at gmail.com
Tue Apr 1 07:45:20 EDT 2008
Philippines voted YES. However, a PSIA board member informed us that
they retained their NO vote. What is this? Another case of automated
RP retracts 'no' position in document format war
By Melvin G. Calimag
Microsoft Philippines pulled off a stirring victory of sorts as the
country reversed its earlier position and voted last Friday, March 28,
to approve the controversial Open XML as an international document
The Bureau of Product Standards (BPS), an agency under the Department
of Trade and Industry, voted for the Philippines upon the
recommendation of a technical committee composed of different local
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) conducted
this February a re-evaluation of the voting process made late last
year, allowing the Philippines, along with other ISO member countries,
to modify or retain their respective positions.
During the initial round of balloting, Open XML (also known as Open
Office XML or OOXML) came up short of the required number of votes for
it to be become an ISO standard. The Philippines was one the countries
which voted no then.
It is not known yet how the country's change of vote would affect the
Open XML's fate as an ISO standard. The international body is expected
to deliberate on the outcome of the re-evaluation process "within the
week or next week," according to Jose Carlos Reyes, BPS project
officer who made the Philippine vote in behalf of BPS director Jesus
A CNET report said the ISO is expected to announce the results of the
Open XML vote on Wednesday, April 2, to member countries, but a final
tally was expected to be communicated to the public on Monday, April 7.
Unofficial tallies from industry observers indicate that the Open XML
would be approved. Another Southeast Asian country, Singapore, has
also voted to approve the new document format.
The nine members of the technical committee tasked to evaluate the
country's position came up with a razor-thin 5-4 decision in favor of
the Microsoft-backed document format, said Reyes in a
The voting process was as tight as it can get, with most
representatives from the government sector
electing to reject the document format. However, the chair of the
committee, Philip Barilla of the
Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), tilted
the balance of power to the "yes" side.
Also voting in favor of the Open XML's approval were Peter Que of the
Philippine Computer Society, Beng Coronel of the Philippine Software
Industry Association, George Kintanar of the CIO Forum, and
Juan Chua of the Computer Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers
Association of the Philippines.
Casting the negative votes were Julie Sudario of the CICT's National
Computer Center, Peter Banzon of the Advanced Science and Technology
Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Prospero
Naval of the computer science department of the state-owned University
of the Philippines, and Darwin Santos of the DOST's Philippine Council
for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development.
According to Reyes, a number of institutions, both local and
international, fiercely articulated their
opposition to the document's approval as an ISO standard. Among those
who wrote to express their
objection were open source advocates Red Hat, Google, and the ODF
Reyes said the BPS also solicited the opinions of top industry groups
ITAP (Information Technology
Association of the Philippines) and ITFP (Information Technology
Foundation of the Philippines), but the organizations did not submit
any position on the issue.
Though obviously elated by the development, the local subsidiary of
Microsoft Corp. chose to highlight in its official statement the
"transparent" process which the BPS adopted in resolving the issue.
"The thoughtful consideration and input which the various stakeholders
led by the BPS offered throughout this process illustrates a deep
commitment to making technical improvements to the Open XML
specification for the benefit of customers, partners and governments
around the world," said Mae Rivera-Moreno, PR and community affairs
manager of Microsoft Philippines.
She added, "Regardless of the final outcome, an unprecedented number
of national bodies sought to have a voice in the ongoing evolution of
the specification and they have greatly improved it as a result of
their deep commitment and thoughtful feedback."
Microsoft has originally developed the format but has transferred the
format's IP ownership to ECMA, the European ICT standards body, which
then decided to file an application at the ISO.
Microsoft executives have said that the current ISO standard, ODF or
Open Document Format, does not guarantee future support for Microsoft
Office. The company has also parried arguments that the industry no
longer needs an additional document format, saying multiple standards
exist or have existed before such as JPEG and TIF, VHS and Betamax, HD-
DVD and Blu-ray.
More information about the odf-discuss