#FactsFirstPH, VP Leni, supporters fight fake news

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo is the “biggest victim” of disinformation according to preliminary data of fact-checking initiative, Tsek.ph. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, benefited most from positive but misleading posts on social media. All of this disinformation is now being covered by fact-checking initiatives and advocates of truth, justice and freedom. Robredo herself appealed to her supporters to go beyond answering misinformation online and speak with people who have been hoodwinked by fake news. Reporting false information on social media platforms and its removal takes time. By the time the fake news is pulled out, the lies have spread far and wide. It is imperative for us to be truth-tellers and debunk disinformation right away.

Disinformation and fake news have duped some detractors into believing that Robredo had done nothing in office. This is far from the truth. Under Robredo, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) conducted not only ceremonial functions. For six years, Robredo started many poverty alleviation programs in different parts of the country. She also spearheaded pandemic response programs that reached out to those hardest hit by the health crisis.

Allow me to share some of the latest fact-checking actions from #FactsFirstPH, Tsek.ph and supporters. I would not reiterate the false claims and lies, just the facts.

1. It is a fact that Robredo and her supporters are not allies of the CPP-NPA-NDF. According to her Facebook post, she mentioned no plans to form a “coalition government” with the CPP-NPA-NDF. Robredo added that violence is not a solution to problems and that she would oppose anyone who would use weapons to push their agenda. “I will not form an alliance with such people or those who believe in them. My priority is to work in a peaceful way for the dignity of every person, for the empowered and responsible exercise of freedoms, and fairness,” Robredo added.

2. Lawyers for Leni stressed they do not pay any person to attend the campaign activities of Robredo and Vice Presidential candidate Francis Pancratius “Kiko” Nepomuceno Pangilinan.

3. At 15 years old, Robredo was only in third year high school. While in college, she stayed in the dormitory of the State University until she graduated college at 21. Right after graduation; she met Jesse, the former Naga City mayor and Interior secretary, and got married a year after.

4. Naga Leaks is NOT TRUE as fact-checked by Tsek.ph. This fabricated news first appeared from a blog called “We Are Collective” blog which mentioned Naga-Leaks. There is no strong evidence substantiating Jesse Robredo was involved in illegal drugs or gambling. No case has been filed against Jesse Robredo or his family in connection with the push or use of drugs.

5. Robredo did not flash a “devil’s sign” to the crowd in their Bacolod City campaign rally. The particular hand sign means “I love you” in sign language, the way of communication between deaf and mute people.

6. The Ilocos Norte provincial government did not back a petition to declare Robredo as “persona non grata” in the province since the petition posted on social media by a university student bears the official seal of Ilocos.

Her prayer is to help her fight the lies plaguing this election. “Only the Catholic Church has the machinery to replace lies with the truth,” Robredo said. More Filipino Catholic priests, deacons, brothers and religious sisters have been offering their support for Robredo. “The Church should always be nonpartisan, but the Church cannot be neutral when we’re already talking about good or evil. … The Church is biased in favor of righteousness, goodness, holiness,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas explained.

Through an open letter, #FactsFirstPH asks presidential candidates to fight lies and lead fact-based campaigns. Part of the letter reads. “We can’t have the integrity of elections without the integrity of facts. Now more than ever, we need leaders who value truth above power — respectful of the public sphere where democracy occurs.” The same letter would eventually be sent out to candidates running for vice president and senator. Read the open letter to candidates at blogwatch.tv.

First published at Sunday Business & IT, March 20, 2022.