Comelec precinct finder embed does not mean access to data: Ressa

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2022 11:12 AM

Nobel Prize laureate and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa speaks during a press conference at the Palacio del Gobernador in Manila on February 24, 2022. The COMELEC officially signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Rappler on voter engagement and fighting disinformation in relation to the upcoming 2022 National and Local Elections. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Nobel Prize laureate and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa speaks during a press conference at the Palacio del Gobernador in Manila on February 24, 2022. The COMELEC officially signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Rappler on voter engagement and fighting disinformation in relation to the upcoming 2022 National and Local Elections. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The embedding of the Commission on Elections' precinct finder in the Rappler website does not mean the site has access to Comelec data, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said Friday.

The Office of the Solicitor General and the camp of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. have attacked Comelec's partnership with Rappler. 

The OSG has issued an ultimatum to Comelec to rescind its memorandum of agreement with Rappler within 5 days or it would file the necessary case in court. Solicitor General Jose Calida campaigned for Marcos in the latter’s failed vice presidential bid in 2016.

Ressa said Rappler's MOA with the Comelec was signed on Feb. 24, the 36th year of the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

"I think all of these attacks against Rappler is really an attack on transparency during the elections. It is an attempt to evade answering questions. And I think we shouldn’t allow this. We should demand that every candidate answer... you’re asking for the highest public post in this land you should at least be able to answer a question," Ressa told ANC's Headstart.

"But I think what’s most interesting about it is it comes hand in hand with the frontrunner of the campaign...It’s shocking, again another weaponization of the law."

Marcos’ campaign manager Benhur Abalos, on the same day that the OSG released its statement, said Comelec should reconsider the agreement as Rappler is a foreign entity.

"This was deflection. Ferdinand Marcos Jr is somebody I've known through the years. Go, run. But run honestly. Stay with the facts. The reason this was deflection is that this was used Monday, the day after the candidate did not show up at a debate," Ressa said.

"If at this point a candidate refuses to answer questions, deflects by attacking--it’s a tactic of dictators all over the world...The Philippines does not want to be caught on the wrong side of history."

The claim of the OSG and Marcos' camp that Comelec shared data with Rappler by allowing it to embed a precinct finder in its website is also not true, Ressa said.

"The data is all with Comelec. Baka naman hindi nila alam ang ibig sabihin ng embed," she said.

"Anyone running a campaign should know the difference between access to data and embed. Pwede naman mag-Google para di naman nakakahiya ang sinasabi niyo. That statement either shows, ignorance, incompetence or intent."

(You can use Google so you're not embarrassed by what you say.)

Marcos should choose between "revamping history" and saying he's not his father's son, Ressa said.

"If you embed lies in your system you're not going to be able to solve them. Any applicant for the job of President should be telling us a vision for the future. show us, put some substance into your words and I would be very highly respectable of that," she said.

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