Why President Rodrigo Duterte is most fact-checked public figure in 2018

December 27, 2018 - 5:55 PM
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President Rodrigo Duterte Interaksyon
In this photo: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a ceremony marking the return of the three Balangiga bells taken by the U.S. military as war booty 117 years ago, at Balangiga, Eastern Samar in central Philippines December 15, 2018. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

President Rodrigo Duterte is VERA Files’ most fact-checked public figure, according to its 2018 year-end list. VERA Files is a non-profit media organization that advocates against social media disinformation.

VERA Files released on December 26 its year-end report on public figures and national issues that sparked the most false information or fake news across social media platforms.

Among the personalities VERA Files probed in 2018, Duterte made it to the top spot due to his impromptu remarks and off-the-cuff gaffes in speeches.

It found that the president made inaccurate statements about his bloody drug war and that he wavers in his promises to the people.

Aside from Duterte, other public figures who corrected their statements after VERA Files noticed their false remarks include Vice President Leni Robredo, Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog, Former Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, Sass Sasot of For the Motherland and Former Biliran representative Glenn Chong.

Inconsistencies of the president

The campaign against illegal narcotics has been Duterte’s main agenda since he took office in 2016.

However, it is also a topic he “blunders” the most in speeches, according to VERA Files.

“The president loves to talk about the war on illegal drugs he has been waging since his election in 2016. Yet despite being the government’s centerpiece policy, the issue is where he has blundered the most,” the organization said.

The article cited Duterte’s false claims that 1,000 law enforcers have been killed in anti-drug operations.

Meanwhile, according to #RealNumbersPH, the government’s official data on the drug war, only 87 law enforcers have been killed while 227 were wounded.

This was confirmed by PNP spokesperson Benigno Durana Jr. when he announced that there are 87 police officers killed in drug stings from July 1, 2016 to July 31, 2018.

Duterte also kept revising his count on the number of Filipinos who are addicted to illegal drugs. It kept changing from 1.5 million to three million Filipinos.

His stance on ending corruption, making peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines and ending labor contractualization also shifted.

Instead, Duterte earned a bad record of transferring sacked officials tagged in corrupt practices to other positions.

Duterte has also completely turned his back against the CPP. Last December 26, he ordered the military to “destroy” them during their 50th anniversary celebration.

Moreover, a number of labor groups also questioned his commitment to end normalized contractualization or the “end-of-contract” employment practices in the country.

They said that the executive order Duterte signed last May was nothing new. It was a mere reiteration of the provision written in the Labor Code.

Another pattern VERA Files found is Duterte’s tendency to repeat wrong details in his speeches.

In his public talk on November 11, the organization counted 11 inaccurate data he mentioned in various topics.

Most controversial national events

VERA Files have also reviewed and debunked 236 posts on Facebook from April to December 2018. It released top five issues that triggered the most fake news.

The vice presidential recount topped the list with a total of 11 “false, fake, misleading and unproven” Facebook posts in 2018. These assertions could have reached more than a million people.

The vote recount started when ex-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed an election protest last June 2016 against Vice President Leni Robredo, who won by a slim margin of 263,473 votes.

Second is the dengue immunization program during the term of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III using the vaccine Dengvaxia. VERA Files tracked 10 misleading and outright false viral posts.

Dengvaxia has been under heavy scrutiny since 2016 due to the number of alleged deaths of children and anomalies with the purchase of P3.5 billion worth of vaccines.

Eight misleading and baseless claims were also made during the 35th death anniversary of late Senator Ninoy Aquino on August 26.

The diplomatic rift between the Philippines and the Kuwaiti government worsened last April due to the video of a “rescue” of distressed Filipino workers there which was perceived as offensive and illegal to the State of Kuwait.

VERA Files reviewed eight posts as either misleading or false.

Finally, it also probed into eight articles involving the mid-term polls in 2019. VERA Files observed that half of these were against Senator Bam Aquino.

Early this December, there were fabricated stories of Aquino taking credit for the historic return of the Balangiga bells to the country.