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

Test of the tempest

Following the catastrophic effects of typhoon Odette (international code name: Rai) in Siargao and Dinagat in Surigao del Norte, Southern Leyte, Bohol, parts of Cebu and Palawan, that led to the loss of 407 lives and left thousands homeless, relief operations drew local and foreign donors, including politicians running for president. This had set the stage for election-related disinformation.

There were posts discrediting Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo. She was the target of online fake news sites, admonishing her visits to Leyte and Bohol and alleging that she brought COVID with her. Meanwhile, a post by a satirical Facebook page has been making its rounds, claims Ferdinand Marcos Jr. demanded for a recount of donations from the OVP (Office of the Vice President).

New year, new variant

As Filipinos welcomed 2022, the Department of Health reported 14 cases of the Omicron variant in the country, with new cases totaling 3,617. As of Friday, January 7, the number rose to 21,819, bringing the country’s total number of COVID cases to 2.9 million. Reports of a woman who breached COVID-19 protocols alarmed many, with many social media users expressing disdain over the lax implementation of quarantine rules.

Again, Robredo became the target of false claims from some vocal personalities including the allegations that her daughters Aika and Tricia have violated quarantine protocols and infected others with the virus.

Campaigns continue

On the wake of the surge caused by Omicron, political campaigning on social media continues while disinformation has also been without let up. Tsek.ph partners noticed social media posts targeting Robredo by attacking her mental acuity and executive capacities. Several disinformation channels also accused her of election bribery during her caravans and volunteer programs. There was also claim suggesting that Robredo has already spent half a billion pesos for her political campaign.

At the other camp, there were fake news posts absolving presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his family of crimes concerning their ill-gotten wealth and inflating the  roles they played during the People Power Revolution in 1986. His supporters also made a claim that Aurora Marcos, who was recently dropped by the Commission on Elections in the presidential race, is an ally of Robredo. There were also election-related claims targeting celebrities like Kris Aquino  and  Venus Raj. The most outrageous of the bunch is a video that declared Marcos Jr. victorious after presenting a tax certificate even though the Commission on Elections has yet to resolve the petitions for his disqualification.

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The Marcos family and their ill-gotten wealth

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.