VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Erwin Tulfo report implying 5 senators told Trillanes to take psych test UNCORROBORATED

Read this fact check in Filipino

A statement made in August by broadcaster Erwin Tulfo in his state-run radio show “Tutok Erwin Tulfo” insinuating five senators have said Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV should take a “neuro-psychiatric test” is unsubstantiated.

Referring to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and senators Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson Sr., Juan Miguel Zubiri and Manny Pacquiao, Tulfo also claimed in the show, broadcast through Radyo Pilipinas 1 (DZRB 738), the five lawmakers said they would rather not “engage” Trillanes in an argument. .


In the Aug. 17 episode, which ran for almost 90 minutes, Tulfo said:

"Hindi lang po ako ang nakakapansin, hindi lang po yung mga kasamahan niyang senador ang nakakapansin, na may deperensya sa pag-iisip si Senator Trillanes. Pati ang Malacanang, sinasabi na magpaneuro-psychiatric na si Senator Trillanes dahil duda ang Malacanang na nasa tamang wisyo pa ang senador na ito.

So ilan yan, si Sotto, Senator Gordon, Ping Lacson, Migs Zubiri, Pacman… lima sila. Limang senador na ang nagsasabi na hindi nila pinapatulan. Pang-anim tayo kahapon. Gusto kong dalhin sa national mental. O, pangpito ang Malacanang. So dumadami ho. Hindi ho fake news ito. Totoo ho ito, totohanan na ito.

(It’s not just me who has noticed, it’s not just his fellow senators who have noticed, that Senator Trillanes has a mental problem. Even Malacanang is saying Senator Trillanes should take a neuro-psychiatric [test] because Malacanang doubts this senator is still in his right mind.

So how many do we have? Sotto, Senator Gordon, Ping Lacson, Migs Zubiri, Pacman… there are five of them. Five senators have already said they won’t engage [with Trillanes]. We were the sixth yesterday. I wanted to bring him to the National [Center for] Mental [Health]. Now, Malacanang is the seventh. So more people [share the sentiment]. This is not fake news. This is real, this is the truth.)”

Source: Erwin Tulfo official Youtube channel, ALING LENI SINIGURO NA DI MANANALO SA RECOUNT SI BBM (ECHOSERANG FROG), Aug. 17, 2018, Watch from 4:05 to 4:53


Tulfo’s statement about the lawmakers is baseless.

In fact, four of the five senators’ offices have refuted the claim.

“[S]en. Lacson never made such a statement as claimed in the online post that you indicated.”

Source: Office of Senator Lacson, email to VERA Files, Aug. 29, 2018
“Wala kaming matandaan na (may) sinabi na ganun si Senator Gordon (We don’t remember Senator Gordon having said such a thing).”

Source: Office of Senator Gordon, phone call with VERA Files, Sept. 3, 2018
“We would like to categorically say that the good senator has never made a statement calling Sen. Trillanes to undergo neuro-psychiatric test.”

Source: Office of Senator Pacquiao, text message to VERA Files, Sept. 5, 2018
"Wala kaming narinig sa kaniya na ganoon (We have not heard such a statement come from him)."

Source: Office of Senator Zubiri, phone call with VERA Files, Sept. 10, 2018

Senate President Sotto’s office has yet to comment on Tulfo’s claim.

At least one website -- -- published a story based on Tulfo’s statement, carrying a three-minute clip of the Tutok episode and the headline, “5 Senators Advised Trillanes To Take Neuro-Psychiatric Test.” Mainstream media did not report on the alleged advice of five lawmakers for Trillanes to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Tulfo made the unsubstantiated claim two days after Trillanes said he would press plunder charges against him, his brother Benjamin (Ben) and sister, former Tourism secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo. The Tulfo siblings are involved in the controversial P60 million advertising deal between the Department of Tourism then under Tulfo-Teo and Ben Tulfo's production company Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. The deal is being investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Erwin Tulfo’s claim could have reached more than 6.2 million people through’s story and a copy of the episode uploaded on his Youtube channel alone.

Social media traffic to the story largely came from the pages Duterte Kami, Pinoy Thinking, Rodrigo Duterte 16th President. was created in March 2017.


Office of Senator Gordon, phone call to VERA Files, Sept. 3, 2018

Office of Senator Lacson, email to VERA Files, Aug. 29, 2018

Office of Senator Pacquiao, text message to VERA Files, Sept. 5, 2018

Office of Senator Zubiri, phone call to VERA Files, Sept. 10, 2018

(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.)


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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