Fact check: No, Pacquiao did not withdraw candidacy after meeting with Duterte

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Fact check: No, Pacquiao did not withdraw candidacy after meeting with Duterte
Sen. Manny Pacquiao starts a training day in Los Angeles in July 2021 with a five-mile morning run.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Following a meeting between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and President Rodrigo Duterte, "bloggers" and other accounts claiming to report news in the Philippines are claiming that Pacquiao has dropped out of the presidential race to give way to presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. 

CLAIM: On November 9, posts started coming out claiming that Pacquiao has backed out of his candidacy for president in the 2022 elections. 

One video posted on YouTube channel "BANAT NEWS TV" presents the claim as a "latest update" from the Commission on Elections.

The video's unidentified narrator "confirmed" that Pacquiao "allegedly changed his mind" after the meeting with President Duterte. 

RATING: This is misleading.


What did the posts say?

The same video also spoke of "news reports" claiming that Pacquiao may be "waking up to the reality that he should not continue his run for president because there are more deserving candidates."

"Those are allegedly former Sen. Bongbong Marcos and presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio," the video claimed as he reminded users to hit "Subscribe." 

That Pacquiao "might be waking up" runs counter to the original claim of the title that he had already withdrawn. It is also unclear which reports the page was pointing to that made those "allegations." 

Another page, "B0ngb0ng Marc0s Supp0rters Info" on Facebook, posted the same video with the caption: "MATAPOS ang PAG-UUSAP sa MALACANANG ni PDUTERTE PACQUIAO nag-WITHDRAW BBM-SARA TANDEM2022."

Graft convict and former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, a social media personality who refers to himself as an "investigative journalist" despite regularly peddling fake news, also claimed in a post that his "informants" said even Pacquiao "wants to withdraw."

"Withdrawing his candidacy is the best thing that Senator Manny Pacquiao can do right now...But his advisers are insisting that he stay in the race," Mejorada claimed in a Facebook post that received 7,700 interactions. 

RELATED: Fact check: Despite lacking expertise, blogger claims Robredo has speech and mental problems

Philstar.com screengrab as of Wednesday, November 17, 12:51 p.m.

What they left out

The boxer-turned-senator indeed visited the president at the Palace on the night of Tuesday, November 9.

"It is a meeting between national leaders who discussed certain matters related to people’s interest and Mindanao development," Pacquiao’s camp said in a statement, adding that the meeting centered on the “infrastructure and power industry.”

Pacquiao himself has said that the latest developments in the election landscape do nothing to change his plans. 

"It wasn't a political meeting but provided us an opportunity to talk about our shared vision...my decision to run for president hasn't changed," he said in a statement two days later. 

Philstar.com screengrab as of Wednesday, November 17, 12:59 p.m.

Essential context 

Pacquiao and Duterte belong to the ruling PDP-Laban party. But infighting in past months within resulted in the administration party splitting into two: one led by Pacquiao and the other by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. 

The Cusi-led wing fielded Sen. Ronald dela Rosa as its standard-bearer and Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go for vice president, both of whom have since withdrawn their candidacies with the party. 

Pacquiao, meanwhile, is running with Rep. Lito Atienza (Buhay Party-list) as his vice-presidential candidate. 

Their meeting in Malacañang was their first recorded encounter since the rift began. 

Pacquiao earlier accused Duterte of defending his allies under investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for alleged irregularities in pandemic spending.

Why does this matter?

Even after Pacquiao's camp issued their statement belying the claims in the wake of the meeting, similar posts to circulate on social media as of this writing.

Since it was posted on November 11, the video by Banat News TV has amassed 640,447 views and over 6,300 likes on YouTube. 

CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring tool, counts 768 Facebook posts mentioning Pacquiao's withdrawal in the past 7 days, which have garnered 170,960 interactions. 

The posts came to a peak on the same day the meeting took place on November 9, where they garnered some 50,900 interactions. 

But according to CrowdTangle, similar posts still received some 7,500 interactions as of Monday, November 15. 

What type of misinformation is this?

The statements in the flagged videos and posts are examples of false claims.

This classification of misinformation includes posts that can make use of genuine statements and media, such as the meeting that indeed took place in the Palace, but are used to push a false narrative.

Claims that presidential candidates have backed out of the race to the Palace have been rampant on social media, particularly from troll accounts supporting the tandem of Marcos and Duterte. The practice is not unique to the coming 2022 elections, though, as rumors and claims that a bed has withdrawn from the race or have died have been a form of disinformation since before the internet.

In October, at least three videos were posted and later went viral claiming that the Comelec has ruled to disqualify Robredo from the 2022 polls, supposedly due to crowdfunding efforts that foreigners may have donated to.

 with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 

This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts

Have a claim you want fact-checked? Reach out to us at editor@philstar.com

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