Judgment Call

Judgment Call: Above all, facts first

Jules Guiang

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Judgment Call: Above all, facts first

Nobel Peace laureate and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and acting Comelec chairperson Socorro Inting lead the ceremonial signing of the memorandum of agreement between Rappler and the Comelec at Intramuros, Manila on February 24, 2022, for a series of projects in the run-up to the 2022 elections. Also present are Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, Commissioner Rey Bulay, and Rappler executive editor Glenda Gloria.


May 9 is do or die for our democracy. While more than 65 million Filipinos are expected to exercise their civic right to vote, this day will also serve as a referendum on us. The results of the May 9 elections will show whether we were able to maximize democracy to safeguard the freedoms that we hold dear or we abused it by resting on our laurels without realizing how the leading candidate flipped the script and used it for his benefit. 

We live at a time when democracy does not only entitle people their opinions but also their own facts. We have no shared reality of truth, no thanks to tech platforms that allowed the proliferation of disinformation and for establishing the currency of trust based on the number of likes, shares, followers, and subscribers. 

But our resolve is to understand what went wrong, to learn how we can preserve the very core of democracy, and to find strength from each other as we collectively defend the facts. 

In collaboration we trust

Rappler has always believed in the power of collaboration. We’ve partnered with government institutions, private companies, and civil society organizations (CSOs) to push forward shared values and universal advocacies. Before the Duterte government, for example, Rappler collaborated with the Department of Education to train students in covering the annual Palarong Pambansa, as well as with the disaster management council, which used our platform Agos to coordinate relief and rescue efforts.

This core mission of engaging the public is what appealed most to me about Rappler. One of my personal targets when I joined Rappler a year ago as Head of Community was to boost our engagement with civil society organizations. After all, they are the experts in specific advocacies and have boots on the ground. We have launched the #CourageON Coalition and #PHVote Coalition with at least 150 member-organizations, mobilizing in solidarity to defend human rights and boost voter engagement, respectively.

On election coverage, Rappler since the 2013 midterm elections has worked with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to help promote voter participation in ensuring clean elections and provide them critical information for an informed choice. 

Thus for this year, in the spirit of the Fair Elections Act, Rappler has sealed another partnership with Comelec, zooming in on the same goals but with an additional focus: how we can proactively address disinformation through fact-checking. 

Both Rappler and the commission believe that encouraging and enabling active civic involvement in the electoral process is critical to keeping the conduct and the outcome of the 2022 national and local elections credible. As Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said, “Acess to information is critical. It is just as critical that we immediately squash false, misleading, and harmful election-related information on social media.”

Voter Engagement

For awareness-building efforts, Rappler will help Comelec promote and build awareness of critical elements of the electoral process through MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. Rappler will also assist the commission in monitoring and verification efforts of critical concerns on the ground by working with Comelec’s Voter Care Center.

Rappler will also share its expertise in co-producing a Comelec online show that will focus on election-related information. Radyo Comelec will also be co-produced which will be made available via podcast.

Access to information

#PHVote microsite, a regular initiative of Rappler since 2013, will be accessible to voters for them to access information that would help them make informed decisions about the candidates. In accordance with the Data Privacy Act, the microsite will also feature an embedded Precinct Finder Service to help voters find their polling precinct on Election Day.


Now here is what makes our partnership with Comelec unique this 2022, the commission committed to be alerted by Rappler should there be false, misleading, and harmful election-related claims in social media. Rappler is one of the two Filipino verified signatories of the International Fact Checking Network at Poynter and one of Facebook’s three third-party fact check partners in the Philippines.

Rappler will not work alone here as we have the #FactsFirstPH initiative to provide more eyes in spotting disinformation in social media. This initiative was launched early this year to address disinformation during the election season. It is composed of more than 100 groups from newsrooms, civil society organizations, business groups, religious groups, academic institutions, and legal groups.

Calida’s rage 

As expected, the Comelec-Rappler partnership was criticized by partisans, mostly from the camp of the presidential frontrunner. Solicitor General Jose Calida, who had instigated past cases against Rappler and ABS-CBN, has urged the Comelec to rescind our agreement with them by Friday, March 4, or, he said, he will bring the agency to court. (Calida, by the way, is a staunch ally of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.)

Looks like fact-checking is a poison to those in power. As if fact-checking is like an exorcism that will rattle their established disinformation infrastructure.

But what if this is a weapon that we actually possess? Can this bring us towards the goal of having a shared reality of facts? It’s a long shot for sure, but we can start somewhere. We start here, we start now. Journalists and fact-checkers can only do so much. We need to amplify these fact-checks. We need to continue discussing beyond our circles what disinformation is. We need to let them realize that we cannot give up our future to candidates who continue to flourish because of their well-orchestrated disinformation. 

Above all, facts first.

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Jules Guiang

Jules is the Head of Community of Rappler. A graduate of BA Public Administration and Master in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2014 and 2021, respectively, he started as a reporter for PTV-4 from 2012-2014, before serving as a TV Host for the same network from 2014 until 2020.