VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Kuwait DID NOT YIELD to Duterte in diplomatic row

At least two websites - pinoynews.info and newsph.top - published April 30 and May 1 a false story claiming Kuwait has yielded to President Rodrigo Duterte on the issue of abuse of Filipino workers and the government's move to ban their deployment to the Gulf state.

Bearing the headlines "BREAKING NEWS! KUWAIT TUMIKLOP NA! NATAK0T SA BANTA NI PRES. DUTERTE! PANOORIN (Breaking news! Kuwait buckles under! Scared by Pres. Duterte's threats! Watch)" and "BREAKING:KUWAIT TUMIKLOP NA. NATAKOT SA BANTA NI DIGONG. PANOORIN! (Breaking: Kuwait buckles under. Scared by Digong's threats. Watch!)," the stories merely carried the same 12-minute clip of a certain Dante Maravillas of Tarabangan Albay News Television. Maravillas said Kuwait gave in to Duterte after he banned the deployment of Filipino workers to the Middle Eastern nation.

Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser al-Subaih earlier said that even if the Kuwaiti government had taken a “serious stance” on the issue, they do not believe in escalation and instead want to "remain in direct communication to solve the problem." He called the crisis " largely a misunderstanding." The Philippines accepted May 1 Kuwait's conciliatory message.

The video clip comes from a two-hour monologue of Maravillas which he streams via Facebook Live on three avenues: a Facebook account named Dante Maravillas, and Facebook pages Dante Maravillas BLOG and Tarabangan Albay News TV. He describes himself as a journalist in these Facebook accounts.

Maravillas has produced over 300 videos since December 2016.

The inaccurate story was published after Duterte announced a permanent ban on Filipinos workers going to Kuwait, following months of tension that erupted after the Gulf state ordered Philippine ambassador Renato Villa to leave the country for conducting illicit "rescue" missions of Filipino workers from allegedly abusive employers. Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano apologized last week for the "rescue" missions.

Pinoynews.info was created on April 27; newsph.top on April 28; and Youtube channel Tokhang TV, which uploaded the clip, in November 2016. The story could have reached more than 1.9 million people. Its biggest traffic generators on social media are President Duterte Astig Supporters, President Duterte Loyal Supporters and Duterte Phenomenon.


(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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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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