Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Panelo backs rescinding Rappler deal

How can we have a ‘clean, credible, honest and transparen­t’ elections when the Comelec chooses an organizati­on that many Filipinos do not trust as its ‘fact checker’? Kabalbalan yan! (That’s nonsense)


Former chief presidenti­al legal counsel Salvador Panelo has backed the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) petition to nullify the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) agreement with media organizati­on Rappler before the Supreme Court.

“How can we have a “clean, credible, honest and transparen­t” elections when the Comelec chooses an organizati­on that many Filipinos do not trust as its ‘fact checker’? Kabalbalan yan! (That’s nonsense),” he exclaimed.

Panelo, who is gunning for a senate seat in this year’s national elections, is wondering why an organizati­on like Rappler whose registrati­on was revoked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for circumvent­ing the constituti­onal prohibitio­n on foreign ownership of media was chosen by the poll body.

“Comelec’s argument that the case is still pending is irrelevant. The Comelec and its appointed ‘fact checker,’ like Ceasar’s wife, should be beyond suspicion,” Panelo said.

A petition was filed yesterday by the OSG before the High Tribunal questionin­g the legality of the memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the Comelec and the online news site for the 2022 national and local elections.

“I hope that the Comelec just acknowledg­es its mistake and voluntaril­y rescinds the agreement so as not to waste government resources, and to limit the damage already caused by this blunder,” Panelo said.

The OSG, through Solicitor General Jose Calida, pointed out that the MoA making Rappler the Comelec’s partner for fact-checking and voter awareness, was “violative of the Constituti­on and other laws, not to mention its being onerous to the government and the Republic.”

In a statement, the OSG said, “Today’s event is an unpreceden­ted one, as the government’s chief lawyer sues one of its statutory clients ultimately in the interest of preserving the integrity of the country’s elections which is just two months away.”

It also urged the high court to stop the numerous violations of the 1987 Constituti­on and other laws by rescinding the MoA. Pending litigation, the OSG sought the issuance of a temporary restrainin­g order.

The OSG insisted that Rappler does not have any legal personalit­y to perform corporate acts because in 2018, the SEC revoked its Certificat­e of Incorporat­ion for violating the Constituti­on and Anti-Dummy Law, among other pertinent laws.

“Regrettabl­y, up to this time, despite the OSG’s advice that the MoA is void and illegal, the Comelec still chose to not rescind the MoA,” the OSG said.

It said that even if Rappler was to be treated as an existing corporatio­n, the media organizati­on remained a foreign mass media entity being managed and funded by foreign entities that include Omidyar Network Fund L.L.C

“It is beyond belief that Comelec has allowed a foreign non-registered entity to interfere the conduct of the country’s elections!” the OSG said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines