VERA FILES FACT CHECK: News report about opposition lawmaker’s comment on Duterte’s HK trip MISLEADING

Politiko, a social news blog, used a misleading headline for the video of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Representative Antonio Tinio’s comment on the president’s trip to Hong Kong early this month.


On Oct. 11, Politiko published a 25-second video clip from a press conference held by the House of Representative’s Makabayan bloc on Oct. 9. The clip, not accompanied by any text on the webpage, had a cropped photo of President Rodrigo Duterte, his partner Honeylet Avanceña, daughter Veronica and Special Assistant Bong Go inside a clothing store in Hong Kong.

The video’s headline was presented as a direct quote of Tinio’s statement:

“Pera ng bayan, pinang-shopping ni Duterte sa HK – Tinio (Duterte used public funds in his shopping spree in Hong Kong – Tinio)”

Source: Watch | Pera ng bayan, pinag-shopping ni Duterte sa HK – Tinio. Oct. 11, 2018


The headline distorts Tinio’s statement when he said a complete disclosure of the President’s agenda and itinerary should be made by Malacañang because “government funds and resources were used” to fly him to Hong Kong on Oct. 5:

“Para sa akin, dapat i-disclose ng Malacañang kung ano ang naging buong agenda at itinerary ni Pangulong Duterte noong nagpunta siya sa Hong Kong, ano, dahil presidente siya ng Pilipinas, ang ginamit niya sa pagpunta doon ay government funds and resources.”

(For me, Malacañang should disclose President Duterte’s entire agenda and itinerary when he went to Hong Kong because he is the president of the Philippines; what he used in going there are government funds and resources.)

President Rodrigo Duterte was photographed in Hong Kong two days after he admitted undergoing medical tests in his abdomen and colon. When asked by reporters if the purpose of his trip was medical in nature, he said he only went there to buy new clothes for his “bulging stomach.” He added he had no cancer.

Politiko also published the succeeding part of Tinio’s comment on the same day, this time with a more accurate headline — “Tinio wants audit of Duterte’s HK trip”:

“Kailangan may transparency dito, in fact kailangan may official records noong trip na ‘yun, hindi pwedeng sabihing private or personal trip ‘yun. So hinihingi ng publiko ang buong impormasyon kaugnay nito, kailangan ibigay ito ng Malacañang.”

(There should be transparency here, in fact there should be official records for this trip — one can’t say it’s a private or personal trip. So the public is asking for the entire information which Malacañang needs to provide.)

Source: Watch | Tinio wants audit of Duterte’s HK trip. Oct. 11, 2018

The video with misleading headline has been viewed over 1,500 times on Politiko’s YouTube channel. Posted on its Facebook page, the story could have reached more than 300,000 people.

However, the video was re-published and shared by at least two other websites with a history of posting false news. The reproduced story has garnered 8,000 shares and reactions on social media and could have reached 1.3 million readers.

Politiko has the same Google AdSense ID as other online news entities including Abante and Abante Tonite, two daily tabloid newspapers. Google Adsense is a program run by Google to track and manage website advertisements. They have IDs, or identifiers unique to one publisher and may be used in the different websites the publisher owns.


Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte during the dinner with Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. (PMAAAI).Oct. 4, 2018

Manila Bulletin.Duterte says Hong Kong trip to shop for clothes, not medical checkup. Oct. 10, 2018

The Manila Times. Duterte: I bought clothes in HK. Oct. 10, 201 Duterte jokes in ‘battery’ riddle: I tested ‘positive’ in Hong Kong medical exams. Oct. 9, 2018

(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.)