Just a glitch or deleted? Official Gazette entries on Aquino admin missing

Jodesz Gavilan
(UPDATED) Several posts under the 'Daang Matuwid' section can no longer be viewed. This is not the first time, however, that posts from a previous administration have apparently 'disappeared.'

GLITCH? DELETED? Netizens point out that several pages of the Official Gazette website are missing.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The government’s Official Gazette is once again under fire after social media users pointed out that webpages tackling the gains of the previous administration have “disappeared.”

Entries under the “Daang Matuwid” section which detail achievements under the presidency of Benigno Aquino III from 2010 to 2016 were allegedly removed from the communication channel of the Philippine government. 

Rappler checked related links and found that although the home page for the “Daang Matuwid” section is still up, some of its features are no longer there. 

Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, an internet tool which can access the version of a website at certain points in time, we found out that data under subsections that existed on May 5, 2016 cannot be found anymore as of Monday, October 31

For example, under the Economy subsection, charts depicting credit ratings, competitive ranking, employment, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, and foreign direct investments, among others, under the Aquino administration that were previously embedded in the website in May are no longer visible. 

NO MORE GRAPHS? The charts and other graphics which depicted various data under different sectors are gone in the latest version of the Daang Matuwid page.

The July 9, September 14, and October 11 versions of the page still had the information.

Meanwhile, pages which are supposed to show the regional or provincial breakdown of the achievements of the Aquino administration are also no longer accessible. 

For example, the link that is meant to access the Sultan Kudarat page directs to a near-empty page as of Monday, October 31 and as early as October 11

However, the May 6, 2016 version of the page, accessed using Wayback Machine, shows an entry containing full details.  

PAGE NOT FOUND. Details on what happened in Sultan Kudarat during the Aquino administration are gone from the Official Gazette.

Other links of provincial pages also lead to dead pages. When checked using Wayback Machine, the pages were also still accessible in either April or May but not anymore come October.

Some of those pages include:

The page for Rizal, however, remains active as of Monday afternoon. 

This is not the first time the Official Gazette has been blasted by netizens. 

Social media users accused the government of historical revisionism after a post commemorating the 99th birth anniversary of President Ferdinand Marcos in September downplayed the Martial Law era which saw human rights abuses and corruption. (READ: Official Gazette under fire for Marcos photo caption

Not the first ‘disappearance’

Are the disappearances of these pages just a glitch or the first step in another overhaul?

The main and official public journal of the Philippines, the Official Gazette was created through Act No. 453 and enacted on September 2, 1902 by the Philippine Commission. 

The Official Gazette, however, wasn’t always the all-white website people are accustomed to now. Its online version was only initiated during Aquino’s first year.

END AND BEGINNING. Screenshots of gov.ph in June (left) and July (right) in 2010. Screenshots from Internet Archive

Prior to the Aquino administration, the Official Gazette was only in print form and was distributed by the National Printing Office.  

When the site was “under construction” during the first month of the Aquino administration, contents of its previous format (which was called “The Official Government Portal of the Republic of the Philippines”) also apparently disappeared.

Among these contents was a section containing the accomplishments of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

WHERE IS IT NOW? The accomplishment section of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a June 9, 2010 version of www.gov.ph. Screenshot from Internet Archive

Jonathan Cuevas, who previously worked for the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), said that the team was “never even given access to Arroyo administration’s content in the first place.” 

He added that the camp of Arroyo said that the “old portal was copyright of the PGMA Foundation.”

Newsbreak (now the investigative arm of Rappler) in 2010, through Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza, inquired regarding the disappearance of the content of the prior administration but no reply was given to emails and text messages.

The Aquino administration was also criticized for supposedly misusing the Official Gazette’s Facebook page to campaign for the May 2016 elections.

In October 2015, it received flak when it posted photos of Aquino’s endorsement of then Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo for the vice presidency. (READ: Should the Official Gazette be used as a campaign platform?)

The post does not fall under the allowed content as stated in Commonwealth Act No. 638:

  • All important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines;
  • All executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such that have no general applicability;
  • Decisions or abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so published;
  • Such documents or classes of documents as may be required so to be published by law; and
  • Such documents or classes of documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize so to be published

The Official Gazette, however, said it merely reported what the President did which is under the purpose of the journal. (READ: Partisan? Official Gazette says it reports President’s ‘party-related activities’) – with reports from Paige Occeñola / Rappler.com 

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.