Making the rounds online is a fake quote attributed to Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., that claimed the “UniTeam” slate will stop attending debates due to “trauma” caused by a certain “hot-tempered and mud-slinging” senatorial candidate.
On March 4, several Facebook (FB) groups and pages spread the manipulated graphic, labelled “satire,” and bore the headline: “WALA NG (SIC) DEBATE PARA SA MGA KANDIDATO NG UNITEAM MAGMULA PRESIDENTE HANGGANG KONSEHAL (No debate for the candidates of UniTeam from the president to councilor).”
The statement attributed to Rodriguez read: “Due to traumas experienced by two of our candidates during yesterday’s SENATORIAL DEBATE brought about by a hot-tempered and mud-slinging candidate from the left, our team, the UNITEAM, will no longer participate in any organized debate. All national candidates as well as local candidates of UNITEAM shall no longer participate in any debate starting today.”
It was referring to the March 2 senatorial debate organized by Sonshine Media Network International where Partido Lakas ng Masa senatorial bet Luke Espiritu went viral after verbally sparring with fellow candidates Harry Roque and Larry Gadon, who are members of the UniTeam senatorial slate.
The statement is fake. No official documents, speeches, statements or legitimate news reports carry the text in the fabricated graphic.
In a March 4 press statement, Rodriguez disowned the quote and said “there is no such statement coming from [him] nor the BBM-Sara UniTeam.” He cautioned people to “practice restraint” in spreading lies and misinformation..
“This stunt is part of the continuing ‘gutter politics’ our adversaries have employed against presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos,” he said.
The original quote card was taken from a November 2021 FB post published by Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, the party which carries Marcos’ candidacy, where Rodriguez dismissed the disqualification petitions filed against Marcos as “cheap political gimmicks.”
The altered graphic was posted by at least 50 FB groups and pages and has garnered more than 5,720 interactions, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle. Its top traffic generators are FB pages LeniKiko2022-Laban Natin to (created on Nov. 18, 2021), Turismo Para Kay Leni (Oct. 27, 2021) and Joke Only In The Philippines (April 5, 2016).
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