(UPDATED) A quote card that is circulating online claiming New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed support for presidential contender Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is not true. She has not expressed support, nor has she encouraged the former senator to “file a case” against oligarchs “destroying his name and reputation.”
The made-up statement attributed to Ardern in several social media posts reads: “I am impressed on (sic) how BBM will lead his country. He could easily pay the debts of his country and lend gold to other nations. He is the solution to every crisis the world faces. If I am the Philippine’s (sic) president, I am willing to give my position to him. Sadly oligarchs are destroying his name and reputation. He should file a case like swindling to teach them a lesson.”
There is no record of such a quote appearing in any of the official websites of the New Zealand government, including the official site of the country’s parliament. Neither are there legitimate media reports on Ardern referring to Marcos in a statement, much less praising him.
The prime minister also never mentioned the late dictator’s son in her official Facebook (FB) page, which she actively uses.
Noelle Velasquez, policy adviser at the New Zealand Embassy in Manila, confirmed in a Jan. 25 email to VERA Files Fact Check that Ardern “did not issue” the statement being attributed to her.
Additionally, in a Jan. 21 fact check article by the Australian Associated Press, Ardern’s press secretary was quoted refuting the spurious graphic, saying the prime minister “did not make that comment and the post is clearly fake.”
Copies of the circulating fake graphic gave credit to pro-Marcos blogger Maharlika for the claim. The image also bore the logos of pro-administration blogs Mocha Uson Blog, Yes Na Yes Movement, and Thinking Pinoy, as well as of political parties Partido Demokratiko Pilipino and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.
At least five FB posts published from Jan. 16 to Jan. 18 carry the bogus graphic. One came from a private netizen, two were in the pages BBM & SARA 2022 Supporters and Rowena Daguasi, while another two were posted in public FB groups TAGALOG JOKE’S and Bongbong Marcos Supporters para sa Tunay PAGBABAGO NG BAYAN.
Of these six copies, BBM & SARA 2022 Supporters’ post got the most number of engagements with 1,900 reactions, 401 comments, and 674 shares. The remaining five copies collectively received 253 interactions from FB users.
This is not the first time the fake graphic made the rounds on social media. In November 2021, it was debunked by citizen-led fact-checking initiative Fact Check Philippines.
Netizens revived the fake graphic this time around as the public awaits the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division on the disqualification petitions filed against Marcos in his bid for the presidency in the May polls. The Comelec Second Division earlier denied a separate petition that called for the cancellation of Marcos’ certificate of candidacy.
(Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Jan. 25 to reflect the response of the New Zealand Embassy in the Philippines.)