VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB page posts old, unverified info on ‘Red October plot’

A misleading infographic supposedly based on a 10-month old Manila Bulletin article on the “Red October plot” or the alleged plan to oust President Rodrigo Duterte has been going viral online.

Facebook page Juan Dirigma posted on Aug. 8 an image of the unverified list of 18 schools tagged by the military last October as “recruitment grounds of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA)” for a “plot to overthrow” President Duterte. The infographic also carried the logos of Anakbayan – U.P. Diliman, League of Filipino Students and the hammer and sickle, a known symbol of communism.

Juan Dirigma also wrote as caption:

Mukhang NEW ERA UNIVERSITY nalang yata ang matinongschool dito saMetro Manila at bawal ang FRATERNITY. Pa-enroll po ako (It looks like New Era University is the only sane school in Metro Manila where fraternity is also prohibited. May I be enrolled)?”

The misleading post referenced an Oct. 3, 2018 article of Manila Bulletin which quoted then-Armed Forces of the Philippines Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and now Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations Major Gen. Antonio Parlade who identified 18 schools where the CPP-NPA had been allegedly recruiting members. There was no mention of Anakbayan or the League of Filipino Students in the article. However, both groups have also been tagged by the military as “legal fronts” of the CPP. (See: VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Why ‘red-tagging’ is dangerous)

The AFP later on met criticisms particularly from the Commission on Human Rights after it admitted that it released a “not fully verified” list, which included a nonexistent school in Caloocan.

The post surfaced a day after the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs conducted a hearing Aug. 7 about “missing minors” who allegedly left their families after they were recruited as activists of left-leaning organizations, such as Anakbayan and Kabataan Party-list, to become “fighters” of the NPA.

The misleading post could have reached more than 561,000 social media users. Its top traffic generators argely came from Facebook pages Juan Dirigmaand Duterte Fact News,and public Facebook group Samahang maka Duterte.

Juan Dirigma was created on July 12, 2018.

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