VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Angel Locsin’s Lumad school visit NOT proof she’s a ‘terrorist’

A video that has garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube suggests that recently revived photos of actress Angel Locsin visiting a school in the hinterlands are “evidence” she is a terrorist. This is false.

Using 11-year-old photos of the actress as its hook, the untrue Oct. 25 upload by the channel Robin Sweet Showbiz bore the title, “EBIDENSYA NA SI ANGEL LOCSIN AY TÉRORISTÁ? TOTOO NGA KAYA? ISINIWALAT NG GURO (Evidence that Angel Locsin is a terrorist? Is it true? Exposed by teacher)!”

A day later, Facebook page News PH Daily reuploaded the incorrect video with a more provocative headline, dropping the last two phrases and replacing the question mark with an exclamation point.

The actress has denied the allegation, and a senior government official has told the public not to brand Locsin a terrorist. The photos also provide no proof that she has joined any rebel organization.

Reacting to a military official’s claim that her sister was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), Locsin in an Oct. 23 Instagram post said, “To set the record straight, hindi po ako parte ng (I am not a part of) NPA or any terrorist group. Neither my sister nor my kuya Neri (Colmenares) is a part of the NPA or any terrorist group.”

Three days later, Interior Secretary and retired army general Eduardo Año in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo said Locsin and other celebrities like Liza Soberano and Catriona Gray who have been vocal about women’s issues should not be regarded as terrorists. In another interview on Oct. 28, Año also said he does not believe the three women are “in any way part” of the NPA or the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The “terrorist” claim against Locsin came less than two weeks after Soberano was red-tagged. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video saying actress Liza Soberano joined NPA is FALSE)

The video claimed in its thumbnail that Locsin “went to the mountains (namundok)” and “taught the youth to rage against the government.” It featured a photo of a young Locsin surrounded by youth.

The image, along with five other photos featured in the clip, is from the actress’ 2009 exposure trip to a school for Lumad youth called Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development Inc. (ALCADEV), in Lianga municipality, Surigao del Sur. The photos were posted by the actress’ sister, environmentalist Angela Colmenares-Sabino, in an FB photo album on Sept. 8, 2015.

ALCADEV was established in 2004 as an alternative learning system for indigenous youth, providing them academic studies, and vocational and technical skills. These are the youth often not reached by government services, according to its official website and multiple news articles.

Apart from the photos, the untrue video had a narrator read a now-taken down post by the FB page KABOS, which publishes mostly anti-communist posts, and a similar post of another FB user.

Its writers claimed to have been present during Locsin’s visit and said the locals did not know Locsin was a local personality figure.

This runs contrary to a September 2015 article by Inquirer Mindanao which featured Lumad students recalling the experience, and said they knew Locsin was an actress.

Another post by a Facebook user who describes himself in his bio as a “Duterte Defender” was also read out in the video. The FB user claimed that the actress was affiliated with women’s group Gabriela because her shirt bore the organization’s name in one of the photos, and that Locsin also wore a “Chinese communist cap” sans a red star.

Gabriela Party-List Rep. Arlene Brosas has clarified that while Locsin is a women’s rights advocate, she is not a member of Gabriela. The military has repeatedly accused the group of being a communist-terrorist front.

Meanwhile, an inspection of Locsin’s cap in the photos do not correspond with features of the so-called “Chinese communist” hat or “Mao Zedong” cap.

The circulating photos show Locsin wearing a black cap with an illustration on the right side, and stud-like design on the visor.

Meanwhile, the so-called “Chinese communist” cap is a soft-topped, olive green-colored hat with a small, plain visor. It carries no other design apart from a red star in the middle forehead portion.

The false FB video appeared three days after Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict claimed in an Oct. 23 ANC Headstart interview that Locsin’s sister, Colmenares-Sabino, went “underground” in the past and was involved in communist activities.

News PH Daily’s untrue post has over 65,400 views, and has received more than 5,000 interactions on FB.

The original video on YouTube has over 82,600 views, with around 7,000 total FB interactions and a potential reach of 4.1 million people, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

News PH Daily was created last Sept. 25, while Robin Sweet Showbiz was created in July 2017.

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