Preliminary findings of fact-checking initiative Tsek.ph found that Vice President Leni Robredo is the “biggest victim” of disinformation, while Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., presidential aspirant and son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, benefited most from positive but misleading posts on social media.
Tsek.ph is an academe-based fact-checking initiative that collaborates with media partners for the May 2022 polls. It was launched in the 2019 mid-term elections. According to the site’s latest weekly update, Robredo faced the most attacks from disinformation campaigns among presidential candidates.
In a hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes on Feb 2, University of the Philippines journalism associate professor Yvonne Chua said that they have already curated more than 200 fact checks since January. However, she said, the trend persists despite efforts into stemming disinformation and a lot has come out ahead of the May elections based on their initial analysis.
“Majority of those are directed against presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo. So marami po talaga (there are really many). Every week, she is the biggest victim of disinformation or negative messaging, whether it has to do with the typhoon, with all sorts,” she added.
Prof. Chua added that there are significant volumes of false or misleading claims about presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in which case, most are “largely positive in his favor, seeking to promote him.”
The senate committee chair Senator Francis Pangilinan asked Chua if there is misinformation and disinformation to attack Vice President Leni negatively and promote Bongbong Marcos on the other hand.
“Correct. At this point, that is how the landscape looks like,” Chua answered. “If you find issues being used against the Vice President, in the case of Mr. Marcos, a lot of these would be endorsements that are spurious actually from various sectors, from celebrities and even heads of state, like the New Zealand Prime Minister, who was said to have endorsed him when this was not the case.”
She further noted that there are also a lot of historical inaccuracies that have been revived or resurfaced in connection with Bongbong’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Tsek.ph has posted that more fake endorsements of Marcos proliferated on social media, often attributed to famous personalities like beauty queen Venus Raj and television host and actress Kris Aquino, among others.
Falsehoods about the regime of ousted dictator Marcos Sr. and his family’s ill-gotten wealth were also debunked by the fact-checking initiative. The fake stories include claims of cheaper electricity and a three-month employee regularization program during his presidency, becoming the youngest Filipino politician in history, and their involvement with the Yamashita treasure. All these, however, were fact-checked and disproven.