Overview:

Notes and trends on election-related disinformation from verified claims and fact-checks of Tsek.ph partners.

Shows of force and then some

It was a busy week for Tsek.ph partners as the presidential aspirants hopped from one city to another, wooing voters for the May elections. This series of rallies became the primary source of disinformation targeting the two leading contenders for the presidency: Vice President Leni Robredo and the son of the ousted dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

false online post claimed that Robredo’s rally was the biggest in the country’s history. Edited videos were also circulated on social media to discredit her. One video claimed that Robredo was supporting her rival Marcos. Another involved a sit-down interview with the former vice president Noli de Castro. Also subjected to spurious content were the so-called pink rallies. Among the debunked allegations was about Robredo’s recent rally in Quezon Memorial Circle, and a post that claims she urged her supporters to prepare for martial law. In an edited video, later proven false, Marcos supporters jeered at Robredo during her proclamation rally.

At the red camp, peddlers of false information disseminated exaggerated reviews of the Marcos rallies. Most of these reports were on the crowd size inflated by using misleading images from previous events in what was supposed to be EDSA, in the Philippine Arena, and the streets of MandaluyongClips from his past rallies were also used to mislead viewers, among them claiming that supporters stormed a television network after the candidate declined a presidential debate. Marcos claims that fact-checking groups, which debunked false narratives and spurious stories involving his family, are controlled by the oligarchy. This is false. As more issues concerning the possibility of rigged elections proliferated, Tsek.ph and its partners will continue to counter disinformation through reliable fact-checking.

Marcos and his debate debut

It took an FBI-wanted personality and media owner to lure Marcos out of hiding and into his first taste of the podium. Organized by his most loyal retinue, Marcos released his propaganda amid a sea of fierce supporters. Expectedly, his statements were in dire need of fact-checking, further adding to his shoddy history with presidential debates. The supposed economist made wrong claims about the state of MSMEs, the issue surrounding the West Philippine Sea, and an unfounded claim concerning their ill-gotten wealth.

While many other presidential hopefuls declined to attend, Robredo was singled out by the bulk of fabricated content that attacked the candidates’ absence. Among those circulating: that she asked the organizers to exclude some panelists, that she was afraid of the panelists and the debate itself, and that she would have attended the debate had it not been for PCOO Undersecretary at NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy. All of these were fact-checked and proven false by our partners.

Fact-checking the political circus

While the majority of disinformation campaigns are centered on Robredo and Marcos, other political figures made headlines as well. One post claimed that senator and presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao declared that God will solve the country’s internet problem! Another post disseminated that candidate Neri Colmenares was finally included in Robredo’s senatorial slate. In Sorsogon, after a Robredo rally, a post asserted that senatorial candidate Francis “Chiz” Escudero formally endorsed Robredo.

Sandro Marcos, son of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is running for a seat in Congress, was also the subject of an incredulous claim that he was the twin brother of a K-pop superstar. His father’s disqualification case was also front and center in a post that said the former chief justice Artemio V. Panganiban came to his defense. In Baguio, congressional candidate Thorsson Keith claimed that he was leading his opponents in a survey. After the purchase of a television network’s radio frequencies, a manipulated quote by Sen. Cynthia Villar was posted, earning the ire of many netizens.

More disinformation perpetrated by Marcos supporters…

…And others surrounding Marcos supporters

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Tsek.ph is a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippines’ elections. It is an initiative of academe, media and civil society to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.