Rappler : Supreme Court orders Rappler, Comelec to comment on Calida’s petition

15 March 2022

By JAIRO BOLLEDO | Rappler

The High Court also orders Rappler and the poll body to comment on the restraining order filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court ordered Rappler and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to submit their comments on the petition and application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida over the Rappler-Comelec memorandum of agreement (MOA).

Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said on Tuesday, March 15, that the High Court reached this decision during deliberations.

“I would just like to announce that in the case of [the] Republic of the Philippines represented by the OSG vs. Comelec and Rappler (GR No. 258926), the Court En Banc during its deliberations today ordered the respondents to file their respective comments on the petition and application for a TRO within a non-extendable period of 10 days from receipt of the order,” Hosaka said.

“Respondents to file their comments via personal service to the Court,” the SC spokesperson added.

Earlier this month, Calida, who is supposed to lawyer for government agencies, went to the Supreme Court to void the MOA between Rappler and the Comelec, which provides among others, for fact-checking by Rappler. The agreement also entails creating content on voters’ education and embedding the poll body’s precinct finder in its website. In his petition to the High Court, Calida argued that fact checks violate free speech.

He had threatened the poll body that he would go to Supreme Court by March 7 if the Comelec did not rescind its agreement with Rappler by March 4. He made good on this threat as then-Comelec acting chairperson Socorro Inting declared on March 4 that Comelec was independent. The following day, however, Inting succumbed to pressure and issued a memo that held in abeyance the implementation of the agreement with Rappler.

This, despite Comelec being given broad powers under the 1987 Constitution – especially during the election period. The poll body “may supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all grants, special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government or any subdivision.”

Calida’s first move against the Rappler-Comelec deal was executed on the same day that the camp of dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. called out the agreement, with false accusations. The solicitor general campaigned for Marcos Jr. in 2016.

During the election season, fact-checking consortium Tsek.PH has found that Marcos Jr. has benefitted the most from disinformation. – Rappler.com