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COMELEC upholds its independence after Caleda challenged to drop partnership with Rappler


MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) emphasized on Friday, March 4, that it is a constitutional and independent body.

This, after the poll body was asked by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to end its partnership with news website Rappler.

On Feb. 24, Comelec inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Rappler in a bid to fight disinformation and promote voter awareness during the election season.

“With respect to Rappler, we received an advisory from the Solicitor General, and we are still studying our options because I would like to emphasize that Comelec is a constitutional body and an independent body,” acting Comelec Chairperson Socorro Inting said in a press briefing.

Saying the agreement between the news website and the Comelec “violates the Constitution and relevant laws”, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida has given the Comelec until March 4 to cancel its partnership with Rappler or else the OSG “may have to file the necessary case in court to declare the nullity of the MOA by 7 March 2022.”

Rappler will mobilize its network of fact-checkers through the #FactsFirstPH initiative, which is a collaboration of 14 newsgroups and over 100 civil society organizations, as part of the agreement. Rappler, for example, should notify the Comelec of any false or misleading election-related claims made on social media.

The National Press Club (NPC) also questioned the aforementioned agreement, claiming that it is “unacceptable to most Filipinos.”

On February 28, Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez defended the poll body’s partnership with Rappler, claiming that the issue of the news website’s alleged foreign ownership remains unresolved.

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