Fake news flies when government officials go on trips

April 18, 2018 - 2:29 PM
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President Rodrigo Duterte is mobbed by Filipinos in Hong Kong outside a fastfood chain on April 12, 2018. Duterte visited Hong Kong with his closest associates after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hainan Province in China. (PPD/Toto Lozano)

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) decried a post by The Filipino News attributing to the opposition congressman a statement in Filipino saying that officials undertaking a visit to OFWs are wasting time and money.

Alejano explains that the fake news piece’s deliberate misquote arose from his criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Hong Kong, which for Alejano was just a junket.

 

Recently, Alejano called Duterte a “hypocrite” for his sacking officials for junkets or travels abroad, when he himself was keen on going on such trips.

In a tweet, Alejano calls Duterte’s recent trip to Hong Kong to meet with OFW’s a “jibe” and calls the president’s entourage was onboard just to shop.

The attribution appears to have been taken down from The Filipino News Facebook page.

Fake news and false trip details

Even as social media’s crackdown on fake news picks up steam, government junkets continue as a weapon of choice in the rotation of mudslinging topics.

VP Leni‘s working visit to Berlin, Germany was fully financed by Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Contrary to the fake news spreading online that this was “paid for by the Republic of the Philippines,” no amount was charged to the Philippine gov’t.

Critics of the administration came to the defense of the Vice President Leni Robredo and the Liberal Party, dispelling “fake news” that claimed Robredo’s trip to Europe, which was joined by other leading LP figures, was financed with taxpayers’ money.

Robredo confirmed that the LP delegation in Germany received funding from the Berlin-based Friedrich Naumann Foundation for a study visit featuring discussions on governance and poverty alleviation.

When Alejano’s party-list colleague, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, visited the United States and met US Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in October last year, there were reports that claimed US President Donald Trump called Trillanes a “little narco who met with Marco.”

The reports were false and an apology was issued by at least one mainstream news editor. Other authors of similar reports circulating on social media did not bother issuing a correction.

US Sen. Marco Rubio and Philippines Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV meet in October last year. (Released)

As Duterte continues to green light travel by his office and allies, the dissonance fuels unabashed speculation on the other side of the battlefield.

Casualties from travel crackdown

Malacañang in January this year issued a memorandum containing the travel guidelines for officials, citing a need to curb the problem of excessive and unnecessary travel by government officials.

Decreed in the memorandum was officials could on trips if such were contemplated by the mandate of their office, and that proper travel authorization had been issued by the head of the office or agency.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea also said that the heads of agencies had to submit a list of recommended seminars and conferences their officials could attend.

Duterte has in fact sacked a good number of officials in line with his initiative to curb government spending on “unnecessary trips.”

Duterte claimed that excessive trips abroad let him to fire Terry Ridon from the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor, Patricia Licuanan from the Commission of Higher Education, Dionisio Santiago from the Dangerous Drugs Board and Marcial Amaro III from the Maritime Industry Authority during their respective tenures.