Rappler’s checkered record prompts Comelec to shelve MOA

10 March 2022

TAKING cue from the petition that was filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) with the Supreme Court, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday shelved its Memorandum of Agreement with the online news website Rappler.

In a memorandum issued to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, Acting Chairperson Socorro Inting cited the issues raised by the OSG and immediately ordered the suspension of the agreement.

“Given the allegations against Rappler and the subsequent filing of the Petition with the Supreme Court, it is judicious for the Commission to hold in abeyance the implementation of the provisions of the MOA until the issues are settled and/or a decision of the court is rendered,” the poll body said.

“All actions in connection with the MOA shall be deferred, including coordination between the Commission and Rappler on matters of the MOA,” the memorandum also reads.

Social media was abuzz after a report came out that the poll body inked an agreement with Rappler, which elicited distasteful reactions from a broader political spectrum.

After the execution of the MOA, Solicitor General Jose Calida issued an advisory to the Comelec through a letter dated Feb. 28, 2002, “to unilaterally rescind the MOA, citing, among others, the undue delegation to Rappler of Comelec’s authority.”

Calida likewise cited Rappler’s violation of the Constitution and the laws, its record of reporting false and grossly biased information, and its violation of State policy to be fully independent (from foreign interference) and secure integrity of elections.

In a statement, Calida claimed that the MOA unlawfully gives Rappler, a media outfit run and funded by a foreign entity, access to confidential data on registered voters and the power to decide the election.

"The MOA's provisions are also problematic for encroaching the Comelec's power and rights. Rappler's history of disseminating unverified and sometimes, false claims also renders it unfit for fundamental purpose envisioned under the MOA," Calida argued.

Rappler, on the other hand, said that “the MOA was simply about helping the poll body disseminate truthful information to voters and ensure transparent elections” but it raises more eyebrows considering its record and its notoriety for twisting facts.

The move to empower Rappler as a Comelec arm was even criticized by retired officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, former government officials, employees, and rebel returnees who issued a “Manifesto for Unity, Peaceful and Honest Elections.”

The signatories pointed out that the agreement between Comelec and Rappler endangers the credibility and integrity of the electoral process and puts the will of the people at risk.

They added that while their group wanted to ensure that the May 9, 2022 national elections would transpire peacefully and smoothly, the Comelec’s decision to give Rappler a huge role casts a huge doubt about the partiality and ability of the poll body to hold credible elections.

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FILIPINO VERSION

MOA PINAWALANG BISA NG COMELEC DAHIL SA MASAMANG RECORD NG RAPPLER

GAMIT ang petisyon na isinampa ng Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) sa Korte Suprema, ipinahinto ng Commission on Elections (Comelec) nitong Martes ang kanilang Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) sa online news website na Rappler.

Sa isang memorandum na inisyu kay Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, binanggit ni acting Chairperson Socorro Inting ang mga isyu na inilabas ng OSG laban sa Rappler kaya niya ipinag-utos na ipatigil ang kasunduan.

“Given the allegations against Rappler and the subsequent filing of the Petition with the Supreme Court, it is judicious for the Commission to hold in abeyance the implementation of the provisions of the MOA until the issues are settled and/or a decision of the court is rendered,” ayon kay Inting.

“All actions in connection with the MOA shall be deferred, including coordination between the Commission and Rappler on matters of the MOA,” idinagdag pa sa memorandum.

Matatandaang usap-usapan sa social media at mariing binatikos ng publiko ang MOA dahil na rin sa mabantot na record ng Rappler bilang isang biased na online outfit na pinopondahan ng mga dayuhang grupo.

Matapos malagdaan ang MOA, agad nagpadala ng advisory at pagtutol si Solicitor General Jose Calida sa Comelec nitong Pebrero 28 na humihiling “to unilaterally rescind the MOA, citing, among others, the undue delegation to Rappler of Comelec’s authority.”

Binanggit din ni Calida ang paglabag ng Rappler sa batas at Konstitusyon at ang mga record nito nang pagbabalita ng “fake news” at “biased information.”

Sinabi ni Calida na ang MOA ay magbibigay sa Rappler ng access sa mga confidential na detalye sa mga botante at posibleng kapangyarihan na makapag-impluwensiya sa resulta ng eleksyon alinsunod sa kagustuhan ng kanilang foreign principal.

"The MOA's provisions are also problematic for encroaching the Comelec's power and rights. Rappler's history of disseminating unverified and sometimes, false claims also render it unfit for fundamental purpose envisioned under the MOA," ani Calida.

Una rito, binatikos din ng mga retiradong opisyal ng AFP at PNP, Philippine Coast Guard, dating government officials, empleyado at mga rebel returnees ang naturang MOA ng Comelec at Rappler sa isang “Manifesto for Unity, Peaceful and Honest Elections.”

Binanggit ng grupo na ang kasunduan sa pagitan ng Comelec at Rappler ay banta sa kredibilidad at integridad ng halalan at posibleng malagay sa alanganin ang resulta nito.

Kwestiyonable rin umano ang kredibilidad ng halalan kung matutuloy ang naturang kasunduan.

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