VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bantag NOT flagged at airport

A video on Facebook (FB) falsely claims suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag was flagged at an airport and made to admit involvement in the killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.

On Nov. 9, an FB page uploaded the video with the erroneous headline:

Grabe Malaking gulo ito! General Bantag hinarang sa airport at pinapaamin na! Dating Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte nagulat sa itinuturo na isa pang MASTERMIND!” 

(Wow, this is a big mess! General Bantag blocked at an airport and asked to confess now! Former President Rodrigo Duterte shocked over the other tagged mastermind!)

The same text flashed throughout the four-minute clip.

The video’s thumbnail showed a man in a white polo at an airport queue encircled in yellow. Suggesting the man was Bantag, an image of the former BuCor chief, also dressed in a white shirt, was added, and an arrow connected the two photos.

There is no announcement from state officials nor news about Bantag getting flagged at any of the country’s gateways. The video’s narrator never discussed the claim and instead talked about Mabasa’s brother saying Duterte should be considered a person of interest in the case.

In a Nov. 9 ambush interview, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Bantag and BuCor deputy senior officer Ricardo Zulueta, allegedly the “masterminds” behind the killing of Mabasa, are still in the country. 

“Remember they are government officials, they’re not allowed to leave the Philippines without travel authority,” Remulla said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Still, the Department of Justice seeks to file a hold departure order against the two officials.

Additionally, the person in white in the circulating video’s thumbnail is not Bantag. The image was from a 2017 The Filipino Times article on foreigners banned by the Bureau of Immigration.

The false video appeared a day after Remulla urged Bantag and Zulueta “to surrender and face the charges” following the filing of murder raps against them.

It was published by FB page VINZ WORLD (created on March 5, 2020), garnering over 6,000 reactions, 3,400 comments, 370 shares and 256,000 views.


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