Beware of this ‘Bishop Ted Bacani’ impostor

Last Friday afternoon, June 11, I got a call from an unidentified number while I was attending a VERA Files activity. The caller introduced himself as “Bishop Ted Bacani.”

I had to ask him twice who he was because he was not speaking gently the way I remember Bishop Ted Bacani spoke. Anyway, he said, “Si Bishop Bacani ito.”

He said he had learned that VERA Files is the owner of Facebook Philippines. I immediately corrected him. VERA Files does not own Facebook Philippines. We are just one of the three third-party fact-checkers of Facebook in the country.

He said he got the information from Christine Herrera of the Inquirer.

I said, “Christine Herrera? Patay na po si Christine Herrera (Christine Herrera has passed away).” He kept on repeating the name of Christine Herrera.

Herrera had long left the Philippine Daily Inquirer and was reporting for The Manila Standard when she died of cardiac aneurysm in November 2017.

It was a red flag. But I still asked him what I can do for him. He said his Facebook account was suspended the previous day because of violations of community standards. I told him to write to Facebook. I even asked him to send me a copy and I’ll see what I can do about it.

He said, “Paano ‘yung pagmumura. ‘Yung putang-ina. Bakit n’yo tinatanggal ang putang-ina sa comment ko. (How about the curses. The son of a bitch. Why do you delete the son of a bitch in my comments?)

Then he cursed me several times. I had to cut him off and blocked his number.

A VERA Files colleague told me that the impostor “Bishop Ted Bacani” also harassed Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list). Here’s a portion of a post in Gabriela Women’s Party FB page:

“Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list) said Friday that she is eyeing to file charges against a pro-Duterte vlogger who subjected her to a peppering of vulgar and lewd language over a phone call.

Brosas told a news conference that their group is still studying what charges to file against Niño Barzaga, who recorded the conversation and uploaded it on social media, but said that among these would be a violation of the anti-wiretapping law.

’What he did to me is not a mere practical joke, but emotional and sexual harassment. This is a serious criminal offense and we will file a formal case soon,’she said.

Brosas said that last June 2, she received a call from an unknown number who claimed to be Bishop Ted Bacani and proceeded to ask about the activities of Gabriela Women’s Party.

She said she detailed the activities of Gabriela, but then the call suddenly took a turn.

Laking gulat ko nang bigla na lang akong minura ng caller, pinagsisigawan, at sinabihan ng mga malalaswang bagay,” she said.

(I was completely shocked when the caller cursed me, yelled at me and told me lewd things.)

She said she then hung up, but was then faced with a barrage of hate texts and calls on her personal phone number.

’Malakas ang loob ng mga DDS (Diehard Duterte Supporters) vloggers na ito dahil kasangga nila ang presidenteng wala ring respeto sa kababaihan,” Brosas said.

(These DDS vloggers have bravado because they are allied with the president who also has no respect for women.)”

I remember this Niño Barzaga. On Oct. 26, 2018, following Facebook’s takedown of 95 pages and 39 accounts in the Philippines for violating its spam and authenticity policies, DZRH’s Cesar Chavez interviewed him because his accounts were among those removed from the social media platform.

Chavez called me up and I explained that as Facebook’s third-party fact-checker, VERA Files does not delete, block, or remove posts, pages or accounts. We just fact check and tag fake, false, and misleading posts.

After Chavez’s program, I received a text message from an unidentified number cursing me.

So, he is still at it. And now, he is masquerading as “Bishop Ted Bacani.” Beware.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.