​VERA FILES FACT CHECK: No, Robredo DID NOT ban guns in anti-drug police raids

Three different fake quotes with one common message went viral on Facebook (FB) over the weekend. The fabricated statements were all attributed to Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

Robredo, who recently accepted her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), was portrayed as saying she will “forbid” the use of weaponry during police operations against illegal drugs.

The first fake quote card used a 2017 photo of Robredo distributed to news organizations. A text was added to the image, including a supposed pronouncement on how “police casualties cannot be prevented”:

“Bilang Co-Chairman ng ICAD, agad kong ipag-babawal sa lahat ng kapulisan ang pagdadala ng baril o anuman uri ng sandata during Raid and Police Operation ng sagayon masiguro ko walang mamamatay na suspek. Bagamat hindi maiiwasan na may malagas sa ating mga kapulisan. Tututulong po ang gobyerno sa pagpapalibing sa kanila

(As co-chair of ICAD, I will immediately ban all police from carrying guns or any other type of weapon during raid and police operations to ensure no suspect will die. While we cannot prevent the death of our police officers, the government will provide them with burial assistance).”

Another version of this had an additional text superimposed on the vice-president’s photo, calling her “TangaBells (Idiot)!!!” Yet another added the phrase “Kawawang Police, they deserved to die (Poor policemen, they deserved to die).”

This fakery, shared over 18,000 times, has been posted by various netizens and several FB pages, with Duterte Guardians and Boycott Abs-Cbn Station generating the most social media traffic.

The vice-president’s official FB page has already announced that this infographic is fabricated.

The earliest traceable version of this fake quote card was posted at 8:52 p.m. on Nov. 8, hours after the ICAD held a press briefing at the Office of the Vice President. It was from a netizen who captioned his post with:

“Kasuhan nyo nalang po ako vice, ayoko pong magpakamatay (Just file a case against me, [Vice-President], I don’t want to kill myself).”

A cursory search online shows the netizen’s name is included in the National Police Commission’s list of passers for the rank of Police Officer in August 2016.

No legitimate news organization has reported that Robredo has ordered a gun ban during police operations. A review of her interviews and speeches since Nov. 8 yielded no such pronouncement.

The second fake quote card, which used Robredo’s photo in an April 5 report, claimed the vice-president wants a “NO GUN ARREST POLICY to Drug Suspects (sic).”

The third infographic shows Robredo wanting to “disarm PNP/DEA (sic) enforcement team” to protect “drug addicts and criminals.” It used a photo of her announcing on Nov. 6 her acceptance of the ICAD co-chair post.

In an interview with the media on Nov. 9, Robredo pushed for law enforcers to use body cameras during anti-illegal drug operations. She said this is for their own protection, to avoid unwarranted lawsuits and to “preserve the integrity” of said operations.

(Editor’s Note:VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)