VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Jay Sonza shares fake ‘ABS-CBN’ post on GCQ guideline for senior citizens

Read this fact check in Filipino

Adding fuel to calls for the nonrenewal of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise, former broadcaster Jay Sonza published as true a satirical post claiming the network reported that senior citizens would be allowed to go out of their house under the general community quarantine (GCQ) only "if they are accompanied by their parents."

Sonza has thrice been flagged by VERA Files Fact Check for spreading disinformation on social media.

STATEMENT

On May 4, the day media giant ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise expired, Sonza uploaded a screen capture of a Facebook (FB) post, with the publisher’s name and posting date cropped out. It featured a “Breaking News” social media card of ABS-CBN and the caption:

“BREAKING NEWS:

IATF has allowed Seniors to go anywhere they like during the GCQ as long as they are accompanied by their parents.”

Source: Jay Sonza, “This is just one example…,” May 4, 2020

Sonza, in his now-deleted post, wrote as his caption that the report is an example of “why this Network (sic) deserved its non-renewal of government franchise which expires today.”

Sonza’s post drew various reactions from netizens who shared and commented on it, with some asking whether ABS-CBN “has editors or proofreaders,” and others asking in disbelief if it was real.

FACT

A search through posts and tweets of ABS-CBN News’s official FB and Twitter accounts shows that the photo Sonza shared was not posted by the media organization.

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Hours after Sonza published his fake post, ABS-CBN issued an advisory saying it did not publish the graphic.

It further reminded the public to “read reports from legitimate news accounts” before sharing posts online.

The spurious post surfaced shortly after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clarified on April 30 that the GCQ does not hold senior citizens under house arrest.

In a statement read by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said senior citizens “who are actively working or running businesses,” aside from those seeking medical attention and needing to buy food and medicines, are allowed to go out of their houses.

The clarification was announced in connection with a provision under Executive Order No. 112, which sets guidelines for the implementation of the GCQ in selected places in the country. It requires individuals younger than 21 years old and 60 years and older “to remain in their residences at all times” except when “obtaining essential goods and services or for work permitted industries and offices.”

Social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle shows that posts carrying the fake report on the GCQ guideline first made rounds online without the Breaking News card on May 3. The earliest retrievable post carrying both the fake caption and ABS-CBN’s social media card was by a netizen who labeled it as “gv” or good vibes.

The post received mostly ‘Haha’ reactions from netizens, with commenters sarcastically agreeing that older people “need to look after senior citizens” in case they end up “playing around.”

As of May 5, CrowdTangle has recorded 45 FB posts by private netizens, pages, and public groups sharing or republishing the fake report, garnering an accumulated total of over 7,700 interactions. Sonza’s post alone, before its deletion, got more than 3,700 reactions, 800 comments, and 600 shares.

The National Telecommunications Commission said earlier this year that it would grant ABS-CBN provisional authority allowing it to operate while awaiting the renewal of its franchise. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The ABS-CBN franchise conundrum)


Sources:

ABS-CBN News, “President Duterte directs PhilHealth…,” May 4, 2020

Jay Sonza, “This is just one example…,” May 4, 2020

ABS-CBN News, Official Facebook page, Aug. 13, 2008

ABS-CBN News, Official Twitter account, August 2008

ABS-CBN News, “FAKE. Hindi galing sa ABS-CBN…,” May 4, 2020

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar and PCOO Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio, April 30, 2020

Official Gazette, Executive Order No. 112, April 30, 2020

TOP CARS Manila, “Sino may mali?,” May 3, 2020

Kay Sison, “Hahaha gv,” May 3, 2020

CNN Philippines, NTC to issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN pending franchise renewal bid, March 10, 2020

Rappler, NTC 'most likely' to grant ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate, March 10, 2020

Philstar.com, NTC to issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN, March 10, 2020


(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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