VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Claim that vaccines are being used to reduce population FALSE

A Filipino health care professional posted a video that included a clip from a four-year-old speech of President Rodrigo Duterte to bolster his own erroneous claim that vaccines are being used to reduce the country’s population.

The claim by Ron Samaniego posted on Aug. 2 in his Facebook (FB) page Doc Ron Ang Malakas is a misrepresentation of what Duterte said in a speech in July 2017, when COVID-19 and the vaccines to fight it were still non-existent.

Samaniego, in a 42-second video, concluded that Duterte is pushing vaccination because he wants to reduce the population to 80 million from 110 million. He then played a short clip from the president’s 57-minute, July 23, 2017 speech before businessmen at the Davao Investment Conference, where he said: “There is too much of us, 110 million. We can sacrifice about 20. So, it becomes 80. So hindi na (we don’t become) overpopulated.”

The president was talking about eliminating members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, whom he called the number one enemy of the state.

Samaniego, however, said the desire to lower the population is “the real reason behind the push” for the vaccines. “This is the truth all Filipinos should know,” was the title of his video post.

This is not the first time Samaniego, who runs ActiveLife Chicago Physical Therapy Clinic in Alabang, posted health misinformation. He had been called out by a group of professional physical therapists for spreading falsehoods in his videos.

The Aug. 2 video got 2,000 reactions, 760 comments, and 86,000 views on FB. An earlier version was posted on Samaniego’s TikTok account.

It emerged a day after the House of Representatives set up deliberations for a bill seeking to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations among FIlipinos.

Doc Ron Ang Malakas was created just last June.

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