Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida for bullying the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) into rescinding the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the poll body and online news site Rappler on providing election-related information on the May 2022 polls.
De Lima, a former election lawyer, maintained that Calida’s attacks against COMELEC and Rappler’s MOA is baseless, lamenting how the latter has taken a page from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s book and resorted to attacking COMELEC and Rappler.
“Of course, Calida is the last person we expect to be objective when it comes to Rappler. The Duterte Administration is well-known for its attempts to shut down Rappler for being critical of the government and its policies, especially its reporting on Duterte’s role in the Davao Death Squad,” she said.
“Calida and his boss are still waging their war against Rappler up to now, even as the time of the Davao Mafia in power begins to shorten by the day. They are the last desperate acts of a regime whose time is about to run out,” she added.
The COMELEC recently announced that it entered into a partnership with Rappler on “voter engagement and fighting disinformation in relation to the 2022 National and Local Elections.”
The poll body reportedly said that Rappler committed its resources to help them disseminate information and engage the public. “An online show, podcast, workshops and seminars are also in the pipeline,” its statement read.
Calida, in a statement, claimed that the MOA unlawfully gives Rappler, whom he alleged as a foreign entity, access to confidential data on registered voters and the power to decide the election.
The Solicitor General further threatened to file a case in court “to declare the nullity of the MOA.” He said COMELEC has until March 4 to withdraw from the arrangement with Rappler.
De Lima maintained that the MOA appears to be the regular agreement on cooperation entered into by COMELEC and its media partners during the election period, meaning, said agreement is not exclusive to Rappler.
“It is doubtful that the Solicitor General even has the power to bring such kind of action against the COMELEC which is an independent constitutional commission. It is definitely supposed to be independent of Malacan~ang and cannot be told to do the latter’s bidding, especially if it amounts to favoring a candidate in the elections,” she said.
De Lima said she is confident that Calida’s attempt to bring the case in court will only be futile.
“There is no basis for Calida’s tirades on the COMELEC-Rappler MOA. I am confident that even if brought to the Supreme Court, Calida’s case will just be thrown out like the piece of garbage that it is,” she stated.