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

More lies aid Marcos campaign

The Commission on Elections Second Division on Jan. 17 junked a petition filed by civic leaders to cancel Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s certificate of candidacy (COC). The decision not only scored a win for the presidential candidate but also incited his supporters to promote falsehoods. His party purportedly claimed that all disqualification cases against Marcos’ candidacy have been dismissed although two more cases await a ruling.

Marcos has had a history of dealing with election-related cases. After his loss in the 2016 elections, he file a case against Vice President Leni Robredo—all have since been dismissed by the Supreme Court — to contest the election results in several provinces in the country. Yet his supporters continue to champion his defeated cause with false claims, especially after allegations on the hacking of Comelec servers surfaced this week.

More instances of disinformation aimed at promoting his campaign were disseminated this week. One was a claim on supposed aid being released by him and his running mate, Sara Duterte, for their loyal followers. Another accused Robredo of inefficiency concerning her typhoon “Odette” relief operations last December.

Since last year, social media were full of spurious information about prominent personalities pledging support for the Marcos family. This week, more fake and misleading posts were made, this time concerning Camarines Sur Mayor Anthony Reyes, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President Rodrigo Duterte.

While Robredo faces more smear attempts

Persistent attacks to discredit Robredo continued this week as well, including allegations that the Vice President asked Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa for campaign contributions. A spliced video was also shared online, claiming that Manila Mayor Isko Moreno poked fun at Robredo. Quotes were also fabricated or misrepresented on several occasions. One quote was twisted to mislead readers into thinking Robredo insulted the fisherfolk. Another claimed that her campaign run in the 2016 elections was meant to save the Liberal Party.

Fact checks also debunked an accusation that Robredo offered an incredulous solution to solving a water crisis, adding to the list of outrageous lies manufactured against her. An edited video with a fake audio clip presented Robredo as saying that Duterte would soon declare martial law. Another falsehood spread online involves a supposed neighbor who complained about the vice president. And on a different post, a malicious accusation hinted that she had an affair with various men, a claim perpetrated by trolls since 2020.

Historical revisionism continues

Tsek.ph partners also detected a buildup of fact checks around issues considered historical revisionism. The subject of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his family’s ill-gotten wealth was either denied or distorted to refute their past crimes. The anti-communist narrative was also used on separate occasions to malign his staunch political rival, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., and exalt his corrupt regime. More false claims, such as the deposed dictator allegedly planning the construction of Skyway 3, hounded online readers.

Tsek.ph relaunch on Jan. 24

To mark the rebooting of Tsek.ph, the country’s pioneering fact-checking collaboration will be holding a virtual launch on Jan. 24. Tsek.ph partners consisting of 22 academic, media and civil society institutions and initiatives are expected to attend the event.

Mr. Baybars Orsek, director of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the US-based Poynter Institute, will deliver the keynote speech. The IFCN promotes the excellence of fact-checking to more than 100 organizations worldwide through advocacy, training and global events.

Interested parties can watch the livestream on Tsek.ph and DZUP’s Facebook pages. For more information on Tsek.ph, email [email protected], or like and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

More this week:

OVP’s Angat Buhay program draws false claims from fake news peddlers:

The latest fact-checks from last week’s issue on the hacking of COMELEC servers:

 FELIPE JOSE GONZALES

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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.