At least two news outlets associated with the Iglesia ni Cristo have reported a baseless claim that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. “Joma” Sison is advising and contributing to the presidential campaign of Vice President Leni Robredo.
VERA Files Fact Check has flagged and debunked a similar claim making the rounds on social media as early as April 21. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Claim that CPP founder Joma Sison ‘advises’ Robredo presidential campaign has no basis)
In a segment titled “Mata ng Agila” aired on April 22, Eagle News’ broadcaster Vic De Leon Lima reported that Sison had “admitted” that he has been advising Robredo and her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez:
“Inamin naman ng Communist Party of the Philippines na si Jose Maria Sison na ang kanyang partido ay isang pangunahing kontributor sa kampanya ni Vice President Leni Robredo. Siya rin daw ang tumatayong adviser ng bise presidente, at ng kanyang tagapagsalita na si Barry Gutierrez.
Sa isang pahayag, hinikayat ni Sison lahat ng partisan na magtiyaga at maging matatag sa pagsuporta kay Robredo na nangakong tatayong kasama ang taong bayan para sa paglaban sa mapang-aping sistema.”
(Communist Party of the Philippines [founder] Jose Maria Sison admitted that his party is a primary contributor to the campaign of Vice President Leni Robredo. Sison also acts as adviser to the Vice President and her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.
(In a statement, Sison urged all party members to work hard and be strong in supporting Robredo, who has promised to join the Filipino people in fighting an oppressive system.)
Source: Eagle News, Mata ng Agila, April 22, 2022, watch from 36:00 – 36:33
Lima added that Sison made a statement “centered” on the campaign and strategy of the vice president, which he inadvertently became a part of. He said:
“Pag-amin pa ni Sison ilang beses siyang nakausap sa telepono ni Gutierrez kung saan inilatag niya ang ilang mga punto kung paano simulan ang pag-atake ng midya sa iba pang kandidato sa pagkapangulo, partikular na sina Mayor Isko Moreno at presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos Jr.”
(Sison also admitted that he spoke with Gutierrez on the phone several times where he laid out pointers on how to start a media attack against other presidential candidates, particularly Mayor Isko Moreno and presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos Jr.)
Source: watch from 36:47 – 37:11
The video of Eagle News had 6,276 views as of April 25.
A clip of the baseless report was also uploaded on the official YouTube channel of NET25, which has gained 49,098 views. According to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, it has a potential reach of 368,354 users as of April 25.
The Manila Times referred to the erroneous report in an article posted on April 22.
Eagle News and NET25 are both under the Eagle Broadcasting Corp., which is owned by Theoben Jerdan Orosa and associated with the Iglesia ni Cristo. To date, the religious group has not endorsed any candidate for the May 9 polls.
Sison has clarified in an email to VERA Files Fact Check that he has neither been advising Robredo nor consulting with her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.
The Robredo camp has denied any relation or communication with the CPP or Sison. On April 23, Robredo said, “Hindi ko pa siya [Sison] nakakausap kahit minsan, personal man o sa anumang paraan (I have never talked to him, either personally or by any other means).”
In its report, Eagle News said that Sison warned the current administration of a possible mass uprising “if President Rodrigo Duterte tries to cheat in the elections.”
VERA Files Fact Check found an April 23 video, uploaded on the YouTube channel of Sison, where he claimed that Duterte is “hellbent on rigging the 2022 elections in favor of the Marcos-Duterte tandem and slate” to “avoid … accountability for his crimes against humanity.”
Sison, then, said:
“[T]his will certainly incite widespread mass protests and cause further instability of the ruling system. Mass rallies being mobilized by the main political opposition party and the progressive forces continue to grow large to disprove the false claims of popular support for Duterte and his candidates, and indicate the victory of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem and slate.”
Sison did not mention being an adviser or contributor to Robredo’s presidential campaign in the video.
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Joma Sison, Personal communication (email), April 22, 2022
Office of the Vice President, Statement of Vice President Leni Robredo on the fake news of Joma Sison as her “adviser”, April 23, 2022
Communist Party of the Philippines, Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis
Jose Maria Sison, The Filipino People in Struggle, April 23, 2022
Eagle News, About Eagle News
Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, About us
SunStar Cebu, INC wa pay endorsement nilang Rama, kaubanan, April 9, 2022
Yahoo News, Rama: No Iglesia endorsement yet, April 8, 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.)