Robredo hits 'fake news' purveyors: Stop spreading lies in times of crisis

Robredo hits 'fake news' purveyors: Stop spreading lies in times of crisis
Vice President Leni Robredo speaks in a Christmas video from her office in Quezon City.
Screenshot / Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines — After her own daughter was in the news as the latest target of false information, Vice President Leni Robredo urged accounts creating and circulating false claims to stop their activities, saying that "such dishonesty is detrimental to the public that is already in a difficult situation."

In statement to media on Monday quoting from her weekly radio show, Robredo said that some take advantage of how many people fall for disinformation and misinformation.

"But who loses when that happens? It's the one who believes it that loses," she said, adding those who believe false information are the real victims, not the subjects of the disinformation.

Robredo, who is running for president in the May elections, said that creating and spreading disinformation has become a business for some people, but added, "when there is a crisis, I hope they stop first."

"What they are doing is wrong but it is made worse when you do that [when] many people are already suffering," she said in Filipino. "That is their offense against the people."

This comes after anonymous and named accounts on social media circulated the false claim that Robredo's daughter, Tricia, skipped quarantine after arriving from the US before Christmas.

Tricia, a medical doctor, tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined in an isolation facility until she fully recovered. The vice president's daughter documented her stay in the isolation facility, where she also contracted dengue, and shared her experience in a social media post. 

Robredo said she and her office have reported numerous cases of fake news to a government agency, which has yet to take action on the cases. She said that failure to hold "fake news" purveyors accountable for their actions would only mean ending up with a society driven by lies.

"We're already starting to see the effects of 'fake news' being left to spread unchecked," she said. "People's mindsets, their beliefs are being manipulated and we are already seeing that now."

RELATED: Palace rejects rumors of lockdown, martial law over COVID-19 cases

The vice president, the de facto leader of the opposition, has long been the target of disinformation by pro-administration accounts on social media since she was elected in 2016.

Earlier, pro-administration accounts posted content claiming that the Commission on Elections had confirmed that she had been disqualified, supposedly due to a crowdfunding initiative by her team.

Robredo also called into question two altered photos that claimed her supporters held a rally in Manila in violation of social distancing protocols, and that she sold fish at a market.

"If we're determined that our country will be anchored on the truth, we have to work together against this," Robredo said as she urged Filipinos to fight "fake news".

— with reports from Xave Gregorio 

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