Return of Balangiga Bells Happened Because of Duterte – Fake News
An online site named Bayang Pilipinas published an article on December 12 reporting that a US diplomat is solely crediting President Duterte for the return of Balangiga bells. This article is fact-checked by Vera Files and is proven to be inaccurate and fake. The report claims that former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russell gave the sole credit to Pres. Duterte for making the historic event happen.
Vera Files confirmed that in the mentioned report, Bayang Pilipinas copied a news article published by ABS-CBN News with a headline that reads “Balangiga Bells back in the Philippines after 117 years”. The site then modified the original headline and paragraphs to false quotations from the US diplomat. In addition, the site also plagiarized the photo used for the thumbnail. It is a photo taken by Reuters in 2016; the news organization confirmed that they did not authorize its usage.
Russell already left his post at U.S. State Department in 2017. He never issued a public statement on the return of the Balangiga bells nor did any legitimate news site or outlet reported on this. Meanwhile, U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Molly Koschina stated in a press briefing that the return of the bells was due to the veterans who protested for decades. She clarified that it was not a product of any particular statement, contrary to the claims of the fake report. Further, no official press release contains any quotations from Russell.
Since its conception in September 2017, the fake news site has been publishing fabricated reports in favor of the current administration. They plagiarize reports from other news sites and outlets and change the headline and other portions of the news to information that are false and could gain positive feedback for the government.
Unfortunately, the fake report has reached over 700,000 people to date and has garnered 6,000 shares from other fake news sites promoting the Duterte administration, most of which are followed by millions of people. The increasing number of verified fake news is alarming particularly because the election period is already near and disinformation and misinformation are common tools of propaganda. It can threaten the nation’s democracy because it has the power to polarize society and induce decision errors beneficial for politicians but can damage the democratic state of the country.
Vera Files is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the production of media products and services based on intensive research and in-depth reporting. Vera Files has been verifying the accuracy of news and information published online especially in social network sites and has already produced corrected and fact-checked news.
The responsibility lies not only in the journalists but also in all citizens – we must all remain vigilant in protecting our democracy as well as upholding the truth.
Link to the fake news site: http://bayangpilipinas.com/
Links of news articles by Vera Files and ABS-CBN News confirming the inaccuracy of the report: http://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-article-claiming-former-us-diplomat-so