The Facebook page of the Iloilo City Police Office and multiple Facebook accounts of Army reservists in Mindanao shared May 12 a post that falsely reported that the Commission on Elections has disqualified six partylist groups under the Makabayan bloc: Bayan Muna, Anakbayan, Anakpawis, ACT Teachers, Gabriela and Anakbayan.
The post, published by the Facebook page Diego Pagbabago at 2 p.m. that day, appeared about four hours later on the Iloilo City police’s Pulis Icpo Serbisyo Publiko page.
Social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle identified six other Facebook accounts that posted the false claim as the 8th Infantry "Dependable" Battalion, Philippine Army; Ask Jay Lee; Joint Reserve Task Force “Metro Davao”; CMO 11rcdg; 1st Metro Davao Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion Philippine Army; and 1105th Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion Peace Keepers.
Diego Pagbabago’s status states that six partylist groups were disqualified but its headline reads: “Comelec disqualifies five partylist, days before election.”
The full text of the accompanying image reads:
Disqualified. Yan ang hatol ng Comelec sa Partylist na tatakbo sana ngayong halalan 2019. Ang kadahilanan ng Comelec sa pagsuspendi sa limang Partylist ay dahil sa aktibo nitong pakikilahok upang pabagsakin ang gobyerno. Ang pagdisqualify ay ugat sa isang petisyon na inihain ni Angel Aguilar sa Comelec upang kanselahin ang rehistro ng anim na Partylist Bayan Muna, Anak Bayan, Anakpawis, Act-Teachers, Gabriela and Anakbayan Partylist (Disqualified. That is the decision of Comelec on Partylist running in the 2019 election. The reason Comelec suspended the five Partylist is they are involved in overthrowing the government. The disqualification stems from a petition by Angel Aguilar before the Comelec to cancel the registration of the six Partylist Bayan Muna, Anak Bayan, Anak Pawis, Act-Teachers, Gabriela and Anakbayan Partylist).
Logos of the Comelec and TV network ABS-CBN's election coverage were used in the image in an attempt to establish credibility.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez told Rappler the claim was "fake news."
“Lumang style na 'yon (That's old style)," he added, referring to the practice of spreading black propaganda about “disqualified” candidates.
No resolution or press release from the Comelec mentions the alleged disqualification of the partylist groups since they were included in the certified candidates list released on February 2019 and since a petition was filed against the groups except Anakbayan on April 26 by Angela O. Aguilar.
Anakbayan is not included in the petition; the group is not running in this elections, according to Comelec’s tentative and certified list of candidates.
Aguilar's petition claimed that these partylist groups and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares are linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed unit New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
Aguilar claims to be a former member of the NPA. He also claims to be a member of the Kilusan at Alyansa ng mga Dating Rebelde (KADRE) and ACT member.
Siegfred Deduro, vice chairman of Makabayan in the Visayas, said in a statement to Iloilo media that the disqualification claim is not true.
"Our partylist groups remain [to be] legitimate candidates under the partylist elections and maintain their high honor and prestige as gamechangers in the House of Representatives," he said.
Bayan Muna chairperson and senatorial bet Neri Colmenares also dismissed the claim in a Twitter video and urged the Comelec to take action against it.
"Sana sa Comelec umaksyon na po kayo. Hindi po dapat patuloy ang ganitong harassment sa araw ng eleksyon (We hope that Comelec will take action. Such harassment should not continue on the day of elections)," he said.
ACT Teachers said the claim is “fake news,” while Kabataan called it a “desperate attack of the Duterte regime.” Gabriela called on their followers to fight the lies and fight for the truth.
Bayan Muna, among top partylist groups in Pulse Asia's latest pre-election survey, urged the public not to believe the claim.
The post is no longer accessible at Diego Pagbabago and the police and reservists’ accounts. But the same image was posted hours later on Facebook page Blessed Be Philippines and is still available as of this writing.
As of writing time, the Blessed Be Philippines post has earned 379 reactions and 158 shares.
Different versions of the same false claim also received a lot of interactions on Facebook. For one, the Pinoy Expose post received 546 reactions and 149 shares as of writing time.
The views and information in ‘Tsek.ph’ are those of their respective authors and owners and do not reflect the official policy or position of the media and academic partners of Tsek.ph.
- written by the University of the Philippines Journalism Department, VERA Files and Rappler