VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Article claiming suspected Iriga City drug pusher De Lima's nephew TRUE

Website philnetizen.com published Sept. 29 a story claiming that a nephew of detained opposition senator Leila De Lima was among those arrested in drug operations in Iriga City, Camarines Sur the day earlier.

Bearing the headline, "Pamangkin ni Sen. Leila De Lima, timbog sa buy-bust operation sa Iriga City (Sen. Leila De Lima's nephew, busted in buy-bust operation in Iriga City)," the report said police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) nabbed in buy-bust operations Sept. 28 its "high-value target," the senator's supposed nephew, Francis Manuel De Lima, and three other suspected drug pushers.

The senator herself confirmed her relationship with Francis Manuel in a statement released Oct. 2. It read:

"Kamakailan po ay lumabas sa mga ulat ang pagkakaaresto kay Francis Manuel de Lima sa naganap na drug buy-bust operations ng Iriga City Police at Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Bicol.

Kinukumpirma ng Senadora ang mga ulat na pamangkin niya si Francis Manuel, na anak ng kanyang pumanaw na pinsan…Noon pa man, malinaw na ang paninindigan ni Senadora De Lima: Kamag-anak man, kaibigan, o kaalyado, hindi niya kailanman kukunsintihin o pagtatakpan ang kanilang mga ilegal na gawain. Para sa Senadora, ang may sala, dapat panagutin. Ang inosente, dapat palayain."

(Recently, reports have come out about the arrest of Francis Manuel de Lima in drug buy-bust operations conducted by Iriga City Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Bicol.

The Senator confirms the report that Francis Manuel is her nephew, the son of her late cousin… Sen. De Lima has been firm in her conviction: She will never tolerate any relative, friend or partymate involved in any illegal activity. The senator believes the guilty should account for their wrongdoing and the innocent should be freed.)"

Philnetizen.com's story, which could have reached more than 195,000 people, was published the same day news broke out about the Iriga City arrests. Sen. De Lima, on the other hand, has been detained at Camp Crame since February 2017 for supposedly protecting drug personalities during her term as Justice Secretary in the last administration.

Social media traffic to the story largely came from the pages Pilipinas Press, PhilNetizen and Groundless News. Philnetizen.com was created Sept. 26, three days before it published its report.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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