March 12, 2022
The Council for People’s Development and Governance condemns the recent press freedom attack on Rappler by Solicitor General Calida and COMELEC’s subsequent rescinding of its partnership for fact-checking in the May 9, 2022 presidential elections.
Calida claimed that Rappler is prejudiced and partial, as it seals fact-checking partnership with the Commission on Elections and that this is an attempt to have a ‘monopoly of truths.’
Rappler’s partnership with the Comelec is a media responsibility to ascertain honest and clean elections. Rappler has been partnering with Comelec since 2013 – four elections passed, and Rappler has not been involved in any electoral data manipulation.
The Comelec also partners with other media groups and civil society organizations – which indicates that the fact-checking provision will be collaborated by other newsrooms and would not be dominated by Rappler alone.
However, after a day of assertion, the Commission on Elections halted its fact-checking partnership with Rappler on March 9, 2022.
By the same token, if there is anything prejudiced, it is Duterte’s recent appointment of lawyer George Garcia as new Commission on Elections commissioner. Garcia represented Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.’s electoral protest on the 2016 vice-presidential defeat. This time, he will join the commission when there are at least four pending cases against Marcos Jr.’s presidential ambition in 2022, either en banc or at the division level.
In the current political climate, any attack on media is critical to be emphasized. As we gear towards the 2022 elections, an attack to press freedom is an attack on transparency in this very crucial election. With Marcos-Duterte seeking restoration and extending their authoritarian ruling, it is crucial that the Comelec be transparent, just, and non-partisan.
Now more than ever, we amplify the fight against disinformation and propaganda; push for clean and honest elections in 2022, considering how the Commission on Elections (Comelec) appears to have caved in favor of the tyrant-fascist combo by dismissing Marcos’s disqualification suits, “Oplan Baklas,” and now the appointment of a Marcos-Duterte ally.
More so, we amplify the fight against state attack and impunity. Blatant attack to the press, reprimanded by the state and its agents, only shows that their priority revolves around fascist rule instead of legitimate calls for people’s education, health, and economy.
Hence, if the putative election watchdog has turned into a lapdog, journalists and civil society bear the obligation and responsibility to serve and safeguard the sanctity of the polls and our ballots.
If the state continuously and blatantly attacks civic spaces, basic rights, and freedom, it is all the more urgent that we assert our rights and broaden our resistance and solidarity. #