VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bong Go ‘quote’ on granting civil service eligibility to Chinese workers FAKE

A fabricated statement ascribed to Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go claiming he would suggest to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to replace “whining government employees” with Chinese workers and granting them civil service eligibility is making the rounds on social media.

The fake quote card was published on March 1 by Facebook (FB) page Confeermed, which regularly publishes content critical of the Duterte administration.

It had Go’s photo,used in his regular column published by broadsheet Daily Tribune, overlaid with the following text:

“‘Eh ‘di bigyan natin ng Civil Service Eligibility ang mga (Then let us give Civil Service Eligibility to) Chinese workers to replace those whining government employees. I will propose that to the President.’ -Bong Go, Senator of the Republic of the PHILIPPINES speaking on behalf of Chinese nationals.”

The neophyte senator did not make such a statement.

A cursory search of the whole quote and a keyword search using only parts of the quote have yielded no official record or document proving that Go really made the statement. No media organization reported on it either.

The fabricated post appears to have taken off from a Feb. 27 statement by Go published on the Senate website, where he said he supports a pending measure in Congress that proposes changes to the salary standardization law concerning Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers.

Go ended his statement with a reminder to government workers that their work is about “service” and not “getting rich.” He also said that those who “are not content with just doing an honest job” should give their jobs to those who sincerely want to serve the country and are not seeking to get rich.

There was no mention of granting civil service eligibility to Chinese workers.

Only Filipino citizens who are at least 18 years old and without any no criminal record are permitted by law to be part of the country’s civil service.

The fake quote card on Go made the rounds three days after his statement was published on the Senate website. News about BI employees grabbed the headlines after the agency, during a Feb. 17 Senate hearing on online gaming operations, was accused of corruption by systematically allowing easy entry of Chinese nationals into the country in exchange for money. The bribery is now known as the pastillas scheme, describing the way money is wrapped in paper like milk candy.

In a separate hearing, an immigration officer turned whistleblower said the bribery started when the overtime pay for immigration officers was cut in 2016.

FB page Confeermed’s fabricated quote card already got almost 5,600 FB interactions, and could have reached around 755,000 netizens. The page, plus public FB groups SEN TRILLANES POWER and VP Leni Robredo Angel Warriors International are the post’s top traffic generators.

Confeermed was created on July 29, 2015.

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