Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison did not admit to “advising” Vice President Leni Robredo in her presidential bid, contrary to claims circulating on social media.
Citing a “statement published in Ang Bayan,” the official publication of the CPP-NPA, reporter Lee Ann P. Ducusin wrote an article titled “Joma Sison admits advising Leni,” published by Journal News Online uploaded on its website, journalnews.com.ph.
The article stated:
“COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison on Monday admitted that the party is a key contributor to the campaign of Leni Robredo and he is acting as adviser to her and her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.”
Source: Journal News Online, Joma admits advising Leni, April 21, 2022
It added that Sison “admitted that he had several phone conversations with Gutierrez where he laid down several pointers on how to initiate a media attack on other presidential candidates, particularly Isko Moreno and Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.”
Journal News Online is a repository of stories from People’s Journal, People’s Tonight, and Women’s Journal.
The People’s Journal Tonight and journalnews.com.ph belong to the Journal Group of Publications (PJI) owned by the family of the late Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, an uncle of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle shows that the erroneous article could have reached 5.77 million users. It was shared at least 184 times and earned 22,962 interactions as of April 25.
VERA Files Fact Check found a similar article dated April 21 on the website of Maharlika TV. Maharlika TV is related to the Maharlika News website, developed by pro-Marcos blogger Maharlika.
The identity of the person or persons behind Maharlika is not publicly available.
In an email to VERA Files Fact Check, Sison said he has neither been advising Robredo nor consulting with her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.
Robredo, in a statement dated April 23, also belied the news report. “Hindi ko pa siya (Sison) nakakausap kahit minsan, personal man o sa anumang paraan (I have never talked to him, either personally or any other means),” she said.
The vice president said she has repeatedly stated that she will never coordinate with any individual or group espousing violence as a means to advance its interests.
Sison, for his part, said he has “never been approached or interviewed by the aforesaid Ducusin.”
Gutierrez also denied the article in a tweet, saying:
“Absolute lie. Nabaliw na yata yung writer. Desperate much?”
Source: Twitter, Barry Gutierrez, April 22, 2022
In a message to VERA Files Fact Check, Gutierrez said “the entire article is a fabrication that has no truth in it whatsoever.”
He clarified no one has ever asked him to comment on the purported “revelation” of Sison in the article.
Robredo said her lawyers are studying the appropriate charges to file against those responsible for publishing the falsehood and make them accountable.
A search on the official website of the CPP did not show any statement that Sison has contributed or advised Robredo’s presidential campaign.
Robredo is trailing (24%) behind Marcos (56%), son of the late dictator, in the Pulse Asia survey conducted from March 17 to 21.
On Easter Sunday, presidential aspirant Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso asked Robredo to withdraw from the presidential race. Moreno ranks third overall at 8% in the same Pulse Asia survey.
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Joma Sison, Personal communication (email), April 22, 2022
Barry Gutierrez, Personal communication (email), April 22, 2022
Twitter, Barry Gutierrez, April 22, 2022
Communist Party of the Philippines, Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis
Robredo asked to withdraw her presidential candidacy
- Manila Bulletin, Mayor Isko asks VP Leni to withdraw from presidential race and instead — ‘come and join us’, April 17, 2022
- Inquirer.net, Moreno calls on Robredo to withdraw from presidential race, April 17, 2022
- GMA News Online, Isko Moreno calls on VP Leni to withdraw from Eleksyon 2022 presidential race, April 17, 2022
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)