Honoring our struggles

As the world witnessed the horrific events in Ukraine last week, many Filipinos condemned the actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin on social media and expressing support for those affected by the fighting. With disinformation running rampant on the internet, the Ukraine-Russia conflict eventually became a minefield of fraudulent and misleading election-related content, from the fictitious to those needing context.

Making light of the 36th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution, purveyors of disinformation continued to discredit the historic uprising through relentless valorizing of the Marcos regime. The late President Corazon Aquino became prime target for such attacks. A claim accused her of selling government properties via privatization. Issues concerning education, taxes, and food security were also blamed on Edsa.

The Marcos regime’s legacy of violence and oppression was whitewashed through spurious stories such as the amendment of the law that imposes 13th month-pay, the construction of the Manila Grand Mosque, and the recurring yarn surrounding the Nutribun that continued to spread online. Staunch Marcos supporter Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson also wrongfully claimed that the $650 million Marcos Swiss bank deposits are “not ill-gotten.”

Robredo still in the pink

Amid the persistent campaign of disinformation against her, Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo continues to amass large crowds in her pink rallies. Fact-checking partners encountered many falsehoods circulating on social media. In Iloiloword spread that local government officials required employees to attend Robredo’s sortie. In Northern Samar, news of scholars coerced into attending pink rallies reached online channels. In Maguindanao, a claim alleges that Masjid Dimaukom was painted pink as a show of support for Robredo. Allegations of bribery hounded her campaign in Cagayan de Oro. Social media content used to mislead supporters claim that Robredo performed a mukbang in Bukidnon. Another alleges that Robredo snubbed one of her supporters who asked for a selfie. All these are untrue.

Peddlers of falsehoods attacked Robredo’s supporters as well. Opponents have shown disdain for her appearances in places of worship. Priests who have shown support become victims of spurious content. Volunteer groups have also faced the onslaught of falsities seeking to discredit their cause. These are all baseless accusations verified by Tsek.ph partners. Meanwhile other incredulous online materials that fact-checkers caught wind of this week include an accusation that Robredo has ties with drug lords, rehashed fake narratives targeting her office’s disaster relief operations, the misleading videos involving a retired professor’s views on her campaign spending, and a spliced reel from a Marcos supporter.

As expected, mistruths surrounding the presidential debates comprised much of this week’s smear campaigns for the vice president. Her most ardent faultfinders focused on her well-received performance in the presidential debates she attended. Claims alleged that Robredo used scripts, demanded specific interview hosts and copies of questions to be asked, and was daunted by some panelists. Her statements were also manipulated to deceive voters. Again, all of these are false.

Red flags hound Marcos campaign

More mistruths favored the red and green camp this week, praising the namesake and son of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. These include supposed evidence on his insistent claim that he won the 2016 vice-presidential elections and his so-called dual degree from Oxford. One false statement alleges that nine out of 10 overseas workers support his candidacy, while another, coming from his party-mate and senatorial candidate Atty. Larry Gadon, claims that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the construction of the Bangui windmills.

A satire involving a statement supposedly made by his son, Sandro, was shared by many online. Marcos was erroneously quoted, too, by a website on his supposed views on stealing and working for the government. However, what he said on the SMNI debates regarding the West Philippine Sea issue were proven false.

The UniTeam caravans are also subjects of overblown falsehoods. Their recent rally in Pangasinan claimed to have drawn half the province’s entire population, and was echoed by an anchor from the SMNI debates. Other Marcos-connected falsehoods abound. His backers allege that rival camps employ scare tactics, using the Omicron variant to thwart his caravans. In Sorsogon, the PNP faced accusations of being ordered to arrest any individual attempting to insult him.

Videos used to promote Marcos’ bid made their rounds online too. One falsely claimed that Manila Mayor Isko Moreno issued a memo against participation in Marcos’ caravan. Another alleges that President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his genuine support for his candidacy. Online supporters also wrongfully attributed the Free Tuition Law to Marcos, which was, in truth, sponsored by former senator Bam Aquino.

Other election-related disinformation:

What’s new mga Ka-Tsek?

Tsek.ph has launched its Instagram and TikTok channels. Catch journalist Camille Elemia as she reports on the latest election-related fact-checks conducted by our Tsek.ph partners. Follow us, share our content, or engage in the comments section. Next week, Tsek.ph collaborators University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, and Vera Files will conduct the Tsek.ph Webinar on Ethical Fact-checking for its partners. Similarly, the Tsek.ph Webinar on Fact-checking Historical Distortion to be conducted by Akademya at Bayan Kontra Disimpormasyon at Dayaan (ABKD) will be held as well. Interested audiences can watch the recording at ABKD’s official YouTube channel after.

More fact-checks this week:

Fact-check issues concerning ABS-CBN:

Duterte family-related fact-checks:

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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.