MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday denied reports that it has disqualified certain party-list groups and a senatorial candidate from their respective races in the May 9 polls, calling these "fake news."
In an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said there is no truth to a circulating memorandum supposedly from the poll body disqualifying progressive party-list groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), and Gabriela, as well as senatorial bet Neri Colmenares.
"Iyan po ay fake news. Wala pong katotohanan, wala po kaming inilabas na resolusyon. Kahit po yung ating First Division, wala," Garcia said.
(That is fake news. There is no truth to those. We have not released any resolution, not even our First Division.)
"Kung sino po at ano po iyong mga pangalang nakalista doon sa balota natin, sila po ang mga kuwalipikado hanggang sa oras na ito," he added.
(The names listed on our ballots remain qualified up to now.)
Garcia said he hopes those who initiated the spread of the fake memorandum will be traced and made accountable for their actions, as this can be considered cyber-libel and a violation of the Omnibus Election Code.
He added that Comelec is willing to help in any attempt to track down those who spread the said memorandum, as the name of the poll body was dragged into it.
In a Facebook post, Bayan Muna debunked the report, calling it "nothing but a pathetic desparate act by anti-democratic and fascists minions of NTF-ELCAC."
"Sa form, substance and grammar pa lang malinaw na FAKE o bogus ito. Malinaw na hindi pwedeng basta na lang i-disqualify ang kahit na sinong kandidato na walang notice o pinasagot or comment man lang sa petition laban sa kanila," said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
(In terms of form, it is clear that the document is fake based on substance and grammar alone. It is also clear that any candidate cannot be disqualified without notice or comment from the petition filed against them.)
Anakpawis accused the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and President Rodrigo Duterte as being behind the fake news.
The NTF-ELCAC and Duterte's office has no reaction yet from the allegation.
The Makabayan bloc, of which the specified party-list groups and Colmenares are part of, believes this is part of their opponent’s move to sway people from voting for them.
“Mariing kinukondena ng Makabayan ang pagpapakalat ng fake news na ang mga progresibong party-list sa ilalim ng Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan o Makabayan ay diniskwalipika ng First Division ng COMELEC,” Makabayan said in a statement read by Gabriela Rep. Arelene Brosas.
The bloc vowed they will conduct their own investigation and file necessary cases against those behind the fake news posts.
Zarate scored anew the disqualification bid that was filed against Bayan Muna and other progressive groups at the height of the 2019 midterm elections, which the Comelec eventually junked in 2020.
"We challenge Commissioners Socorro Inting, Aimee Ferolino and Aimee Torrefranca-Neri to denounce and investigate the forgery of their signatures as this clearly undermines the credibility of their respective offices," the solon added.
The 2022 national and local elections is set to take place Monday, May 9.
- with report from Jasmine Romero, ABS-CBN News