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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte NOT banning Mobile Legends

The president did not say he will ban ML in his speech from three years ago, nor in any recent talk.

Aug 11, 2020

VERA Files


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YouTube channel Civskie TV falsely claimed in a July 30 post that President Rodrigo Duterte is banning the online multiplayer game Mobile Legends (ML). To support this, it revived a report on a December 2016 speech by the chief executive where he ordered “the closure of all online gaming” in the country.

The president did not say he will ban ML in his speech from three years ago, nor in any recent talk.

Civskie TV swiped a 60-second clip from Eagle News’s 65-second-long report on Duterte’s speech on Dec. 22, 2016 after signing the General Appropriations Act of 2017. It was uploaded with the wrong context, bearing the spurious title, “BREAKING NEWS: PAGSASARA NG MOBILE LEGENDS SA PINAS | INAPROBAHAN NA (Closure of Mobile Legends in the Philippines | Approved)!”

Eagle News’s story stated that Duterte’s closure ban referred to online gambling. It also mentioned that then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre clarified after Duterte’s speech that the president meant the closure of online gambling operations, which was likewise reported by other news outlets.

Civskie TV’s misleading post has been viewed over 49,000 times on YouTube. It has also received more than 14,200 Facebook (FB) interactions and could have reached 2.8 million netizens, with social media traffic mostly coming from the page Ormoc The City Of Beautiful People ♥️.

Other top traffic generators to Civskie TV’s upload were FB groups Mobile Legends Philippines and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Official Philippines, where netizens shared the video asking whether the claim was true or not.

The revival of clips of Duterte’s 2016 speech has also generated false FB posts, with pages and groups publishing untrue status updates and photos with text that reads: “MOBILE LEGENDS will be officially BANNED in Philippines on September 5, 2020.”

A look through social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle shows there are at least 980 posts from FB pages and public groups in the last seven days carrying the words “Mobile Legends,” “banned” and “Philippines.”

The untrue claim about ML surfaced after broadcast journalist Raffy Tulfo aired his opinion in a July 17 episode of his program Raffy Tulfo in Action that governments should consider prohibiting ML, noting that it causes “relationship strains”, “depression” and “health problems” in some cases.

Civskie TV was created March 14, 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.)

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