Fact checker catches anti-Duterte page sharing fake info on Palace meeting

June 19, 2018 - 6:06 PM
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President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council. (Presidential photo)

Despite some facing questions over its impartiality after being tapped earlier this year as social media fact-checkers, news organization VERA Files has caught an anti-administration Facebook page reporting false information about a Malacañang meeting last month.

Fighting fake news

VERA Files has recently released a report on a May 29, 2018 Facebook post by Silent no More PH, a page known to be critical of the Duterte administration

VERA discovered that the images were originally posted by GMA News reporter Joseph Morong on Twitter just a day prior.

The conference documented in Morong’s report was in fact not a meeting to address “scandals” the administration was facing, as Silent No More PH claims, but a meeting with legislators on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The meeting with Congress leaders was also reported by other news outlets. The two chambers of congress passed the BBL the next day, May 30.

As of this writing, the post by Silent No More PH has more than 900 reactions and 200 shares. VERA Files estimates that the post may have reached a total of 647,000 users.

Known for being critical of the administration, the blog manned by Edward Angelo “Cocoy” Dayao has been in the crosshairs of administration allies in the past.

In 2017, now Senate President Vicento Sotto III filed libel charges under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 4 (c) of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 against Dayao for allegedly hateful statements made against Sotto and other legislators.

From both sides of the political spectrum

VERA Files itself has not been free from public’s scrutiny. Various administration figures were critical of Facebook’s decision to tap the independent non-profit organization, led by veteran journalists, as one of its fact-checkers.

Since then, VERA Files has managed to detect false information deemed harmful to the image of the administration and its initiatives.

Among these is a May 5 post by Awaken Philippines, questioning Duterte’s decision to address environmental concerns in Boracay when Davao was facing its own pollution problem.

To bolster its claim, the page juxtaposed a collage of polluted waterways supposedly discovered in Davao with a photograph of satisfied tourists on a picturesque beach in Boracay.

The check by VERA Files revealed that with the exception of one photograph, the images supposedly taken in Davao were actually images taken in various cities both within and outside the Philippines, and owned by different news agencies.