FACT CHECK: No, Obama is not supporting PH opposition candidates

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 24 2019 07:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2019 08:23 PM

A picture shared by a Facebook group with thousands of members purports to show former US president Barack Obama holding a t-shirt and his wife Michelle wearing a dress bearing campaign emblems of the Philippine opposition party. 

A reverse image search shows that the picture has been doctored. In the original photo, Michelle's dress is plain and the shirt held by Barack contains a message for the victims of a 2015 church shooting in Charleston, USA.

The image in the post published on January 20 appears to show Michelle wearing a black dress emblazoned with a large green tick and the word “yes,” and Barack holding a black t-shirt with a design in the center featuring a gold number 8.

A golden “8” and a tick have both been used as campaign logos by the Philippines’ opposition party and its supporters ahead of midterm elections in May 2019.

A reverse image search found that the original picture of the couple was tweeted by Barack Obama on June 26, 2015, when he was still US president and days after a deadly mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the tweeted image, Michelle’s dress is black, without any markings, while the shirt that Barack is holding is white with the words “HATE WON’T WIN” printed in the middle and a cropped black-and-white image of two hands forming the shape of a heart around the text.

The tweet says: “So inspired by the grace shown by the Simmons family and all the victims’ families in Charleston. #HateWontWin”

The 2015 Charleston church shooting resulted in the deaths of nine African-Americans. Here is AFP’s report on the event from the time. 

The main opposition party in the Philippines, the Liberal Party (LP), is using the campaign tagline #OtsoDiretso, which when translated into English means “Vote for 8 straight” -- a reference to the eight senatorial candidates fielded by the LP for the upcoming elections.

Here is a Facebook post from LP president Francis Pangilinan featuring a golden number 8 surrounded by the candidates’ names and the campaign tagline #OtsoDiretso:

 

The LP has produced campaign freebies with the same design, as seen in this tweet.

LP supporters have also created campaign materials referencing the number 8, such as this image featuring a Nike ‘tick’ with the slogan “Just Do 8,” a play on the sports brand’s “Just Do it” logo.

The doctored image of the Obamas was shared in a Facebook group with more than 8,400 members which supports Philippine Vice President Leonora “Leni” Robredo, an LP member.

Comments on the misleading Facebook post such as the one below showed that some users believed the Obamas really had endorsed the eight LP candidates.

Another thanked “Mr President Barack Obama for supporting LP” then said in Filipino: “Let’s vote straight LP.”

The image has been repeatedly doctored, for example a web service here offers to edit any logo or slogan onto the picture of the Obamas.