Partisan? Official Gazette says it reports President's 'party-related activities'
MANILA, Philippines – "We are not a campaign platform. We report what the President does – the President's events of public concern – which includes events of the party, as his affiliation to and role in his party is an indivisible part of who he is."
This was how the Official Gazette, a public journal, responded to criticisms on social media after it posted about President Benigno Aquino III's endorsement of Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo as running mate of Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II for the 2016 elections. According to them, the post is leaning toward the LP.
In a post on its Facebook Page on Thursday, October 7, the Gazette cited precedents that have "clearly identified the demarcation of [its] appropriate content and proper editorial role."
It said it follows precedents that have been established since 1935 to:
- Chronicle the activities of the presidents, which serves as the official history of each administration
- Publish the official versions of speeches and statements of the Presidents under the category of Historical Papers and Documents
Documents show that the collation of speeches and messages the Official Gazette has published in the past 13 presidencies included "party-related activities of every chief executive."
"Presidents are elected as candidates of parties/coalitions; they lead parties/coalitions in mid-terms which are referenda on sitting administrations; either when running for re-election or as leaders of their parties/coalitions, they also play a role in the effort to elect their designated successor," Undersecretary of Presidential Communications Developmentand Strategic Planning Manuel Quezon III said.
(Check a sampling of such speeches in the Official Gazette's statement.)
Prior to June 2010, the Official Gazette appeared solely in print form, was sold weekly, and was distributed by the National Printing Office. Its online version was launched during President Aquino's first year as the chief executive.
The country is expected to witness for the first time the power of social media within the context of Philippine elections in 2016.
"We hope this affords everyone an opportunity to more fully discern the importance of democratic discourse, which includes publications, as well as websites such as ours," Quezon added. – with a report from Raisa Serafica/Rappler.com