THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has tapped a local news website to educate voters against fake news and information.

Comelec on Thursday signed a deal with Rappler, Inc., which will offer a fact-checking portal that will counter disinformation ahead of the May 9 elections, according to a video of the signing streamed live on Facebook.

Different news, civic and research groups will participate in the campaign by monitoring and verifying information on social media platforms.

“This independent institution (Comelec) holds the key to the integrity of our elections,” Rappler founder and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize awardee Maria A. Ressa said at the event at the Comelec office in Manila. “Without facts, you can’t have the truth, without truth you can’t have peace.”

Under the deal, Rappler will work with the election body to produce election podcasts and seminars.

“I invite our countrymen to go out and vote on May 9 and vote based on their conscience and correct information,” Acting Comelec chief Socorro B. Inting said.

Ms. Ressa said it was fitting that the agreement was signed on the anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising. “I grew up in an age when news organizations competed against each other, now I believe we are working together to protect the truth.”

“The task of Comelec has become lighter with the help of Rappler,” Comelec Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino said at the event.

Comelec earlier launched a similar voter education campaign with Impact Hub Manila, which will provide information on candidates to boost voter turnout this year.

Meanwhile, Comelec will hold its presidential debates on March 19, spokesman James B. Jimenez said at Thursday’s event. All 10 presidential candidates will participate, he added.

“The Comelec has been advised of presidential candidate Marcos’s readiness to participate in the debates,” Mr. Jimenez tweeted.

Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. will attend the debates if “his hectic campaign schedules permit,” his lawyer and spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez said in a statement.

The Comelec face-to-face debates will have a limited audience to avoid a potential coronavirus outbreak. It will be streamed live on its Facebook page. — John Victor D. Ordoñez