VERA FILES FACT CHECK: CHR, Trillanes DID NOT defend drug users nor attack Duterte

An article by website Breaking News ( falsely claimed that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and former senator Antonio Trillanes IV recently defended drug addicts and made tirades against President Rodrigo Duterte. It was labeled “breaking news” the day it was published on Nov. 26.

The post is false. Neither CHR nor Trillanes have released any recent statements on their websites or social media channels defending drug addicts or attacking Duterte.

Breaking News’ false story carried the headline “BREAKING NEWS NOVEMBER 26, 2020 CHR AT TRILLANES IPINAGTANGGOL ANG MGA ADIK AT BUMANAT KAY DIGONG (CHR and Trillanes defend addicts and attack Duterte).

As its content, the site embedded a video uploaded on Nov. 25 by YouTube channel Philippine ALLSTAR. It was a 10-minute clip of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo talking with no sound while meditative music ran in the background. Above the clip was text that read: “CHR nag-ingay na naman laban kay Digong (CHR makes noise against Digong again).”

The clip was grabbed from a 65-minute episode that day of Panelo’s talk show Counterpoint, where Panelo spoke about Duterte’s reaction to CHR’s supposed “threat” to arrest enforcers of anti-drug operations, among other topics.

Nowhere in the 10-minute portion was Trillanes mentioned.

A review of CHR’s most recent statements also does not show the government agency making any such “threat.”

In reaction to a congressman’s call for CHR to investigate all forms of human rights violations and not just those incurred by State actors, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia clarified on Sept. 30 that the agency condemns human rights violations by government and non-government actors.

She also said: “CHR’s mandate is to be a watchdog, monitor, advocate, and educator of the government with respect to human rights rights. And just as the government has the primary obligation for our human rights, CHR primarily investigates State agents and representatives should they incur lapses and violations in their responsibilities.”

Three photos of Duterte, Trillanes, and CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon were flashed throughout the spurious video. The Trillanes photo was captured by Associated Press photographer Bullitt Marquez in Sept. 4, 2018, Gascon’s image was a 2017 file photo from Rappler, while the Duterte photo was a flipped version of a 2019 Philstar file photo.

Gascon has early on questioned the rising cases of extrajudicial killings and lack of concern for human rights in the administration’s anti-drug campaign. In 2017, Trillanes and then Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court to investigate Duterte’s drug war.

Breaking News’ erroneous post was shared by at least 36 Facebook pages and netizens in public groups, and could have reached more than 78,000 people, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle. Both the YouTube video and web posts emerged days after Duterte lashed out at human rights advocates and the CHR during a pre-recorded briefing aired Nov. 23. The president also told the public to “not be afraid of the threats of ‘human rights.’”

And on Thursday, he repeated the same remarks as he led the destruction of P7 billion pesos worth of confiscated narcotics. Duterte urged law enforcers to just shoot drug pushers and other criminals, adding: “I will assume full legal responsibility … for those (issues on) human rights.”

Philippine ALLSTAR was created last June 2019, and Breaking News was made last July 1.

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