Comelec, GMA 7 allow more local journalists to cover presidential debate

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/16 February) — Yielding to pressure and criticisms, the Commission on Elections and GMA 7 network announced Tuesday it will start accrediting members of the local media who wish to cover the presidential debate at the Capitol University here on Feb. 21.

Comelec Misamis Oriental Director Carlito Ravelo said journalists may now get their accreditation forms for the debate at their office on Luna Street, this city.

“Just fill up the form and provide the necessary supporting photos,” Ravelo said.

In an earlier message to the Philippine Press Institute, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas said only local journalists accredited by Comelec Manila will be allowed to cover the debate.

The Cagayan de Oro Press Club slammed this arrangement as “discriminatory” to the local media.

GMA 7 network, which organized the debate together with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, also changed their plan on how the local media will be accommodated at the debate venue.

In a letter sent to the Comelec, the network said 25 local journalists—not five—will be allowed to the debate venue as “audience and local press observers.”

But GMA 7 network cautioned local journalists that they will not be allowed to bring “covering equipment” — still and TV cameras, and recorders — inside the venue.

“No Comelec accreditation needed as they are part of the multi-sectoral audience we are fielding; they are local press observers,” the letter said.

As for the other local journalists, the network said they will be given access to the media center located across the venue of the debate.

“There are 100 electrical connections that will be made available. All radio orgs wanting a feed will be given a simultaneous feed,” the network said.

GMA 7 listed the news organizations that would be allowed one reporter each to the venue.

These are: Business Week of Cagayan de Oro; Sunstar Cagayan de Oro; Super Balita Cagayan de Oro; Gold Star Daily; Mindanao Times of Davao City; Sunstar Davao; Super Balita of Davao City; Davao Catholic Herald; Mindanao Daily Mindanao Daily Mirror and Edge newspaper.

Thirteen slots will be given to the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and two slots from two major blogging groups in Cagayan de Oro

Ravelo said this is the arrangement that was relayed to them by the network, adding they could not do anything since the debate is an event of GMA7 and Philippine Daily Inquirer.

COPC secretary Herbie Gomez said he is concerned that the arrangement is lopsided in favor of journalists from the print sector.

Comelec officials are set to meet with local journalists on Saturday, the day before the debate. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)