VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB post claiming woman nabbed in drug bust niece of senatorial candidate, UNPROVEN

An online Facebook post claiming former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares’ supposed niece was nabbed in a drug buy-bust operation lacks basis.

On Dec. 16, Facebook page posted a photo of a handcuffed woman covering her face before what appears to be drug paraphernalia allegedly caught in her possession. It bore the caption:

“BREAKING: Bayan Muna and Makabayan official Neri Colmenares niece (Teri Marina Silva Colmenares) nabbed in illegal drugs buy-bust in Cebu city. #SupportOurTroops”

The post provides no further support to prove the woman in the photo is Colmenares’ niece.

Colmenares denied knowing the woman in the photo, identified as Teri Colmenares, after having been tagged by some Facebook pages as his niece. He admitted, however, the possibility of her being a “distant relative.”

“As with many Filipinos who do not know their larger extended families, I do not know Teri Colmenares personally although I suspect she is a distant relative as she hails from the Visayas. I am told that her great grandfather and my grandfather may be cousins,” Colmenares said in a statement posted Dec. 16 on his official Facebook page and picked up by several news organizations.

Mainstream media’s reports on the buy-bust operation involving Teri, a 22-year-old beauty queen in Cebu, did not immediately link her to the former lawmaker.

The post has since been shared 6,132 times and has received at least 3,300 reactions and 348 comments. Facebook page, originally “Hukbo PH,” was created in November 2017.

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