VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Former president Estrada victim of a death hoax

Former presidents are not spared from death hoaxes.

A fabricated Facebook (FB) post claimed that former president and Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada passed away after he was rushed to the hospital due to COVID-19 infection.

On March 30, FB page Trending News Portal had a post that read: “DATING PANGULONG JOSEPH ESTRADA PUMANAW NA SA EDAD NA 83 (Former president Joseph Estrada passed away at the age of 83).”

To support the concocted report, Trending News Portal uploaded a manipulated Oct. 2, 2016 photo of President Rodrigo Duterte visiting the funeral of former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

A headline and horizontal text crawl of TV Patrol’s March 26 episode, a flipped 2015 photo of Erap Estrada, and a medical mask in Duterte’s face were added to make the doctored image more convincing.

Its caption falsely claimed the news came from ABS-CBN, but the attached URL does not work. Meanwhile, GMA News has debunked a similar death hoax that has now been taken down.

Estrada's children were quick to deny the false report. Former senators JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada, and former San Juan City Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada labelled the claim “not true” and “fake news”.

The death hoax was published and shared on FB after the ex-president was rushed to the hospital last March 28.

Days later, he was moved to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator after his pneumonia worsened. His condition has since improved.

Jinggoy Estrada on April 7 said his father is now in stable condition and his kidney function is improving.

Death hoaxes are not new and are used by their creators to make money. VERA Files has looked into a number of these death reports and proved they are scams.

(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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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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