VERA FILES FACT CHECK: No, Robredo did NOT blame gov’t for ‘lack’ of int’l aid for Taal victims

As calls for donations continued for the thousands of families affected by the Taal volcano eruption, a fake quote card circulated on social media with Vice President Leni Robredo blaming the Duterte government for the “lack” of foreign aid and comparing it with the situation during the past administration.

A netizen and Facebook (FB) page Balitang Pinas Trending published Jan. 18 and 19 respectively, an online post that quoted Robredo as saying, “Dahil pabaya ang gobyerno kahit kalapit nating bansa hindi na nagpadala ng relief goods hindi tulad noon sagana ang tulong na natatangap natin (Because the government is negligent, even neighboring countries are not sending relief goods unlike before when we received a lot of help).”

The statement is fabricated.

Legitimate news reports, official records and Robredo’s social media channels do not carry any pronouncement by the vice-president that puts the government in a bad light. Her social media posts since Jan. 14, when she first made reference to the victims of the Taal eruption, include two videos where she thanked donors of relief goods.

The fraudulent post was accompanied by a strongly-worded caption insinuating Robredo and her “idols” -- supposedly members of the Liberal party during the Aquino administration -- previously personally benefited from foreign donations.

A reverse image search shows that the photo used in the fakery was shot by European Pressphoto Agency-Agencia EFE photographer Rolex Dela Pena during a press conference in Quezon City in November 2019.

The fake statement was created as Robredo continued to publish on social media updates on relief efforts by her office and partner organizations for the residents displaced by the Taal volcano eruption. Around 112,000 individuals are currently in evacuation centers around parts of southern Luzon since the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Jan. 12 raised Alert Level 4 on Taal volcano, meaning “hazardous eruption” is imminent in the coming days or weeks.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing on Jan. 16 that the Philippines won’t be asking for international assistance but will be accepting offers of help if there are any.

So far, the government of South Korea has pledged U.S. $200,000, or about P10 million, to the Philippine Red Cross to assist displaced victims of Taal volcano. The Chinese embassy has donated face masks while the United States government is giving equipment and technical support under their Volcano Disaster Assistance Program.

The netizen’s version of the fabricated post has been shared over 1,500 times with over 523 interactions and 375 comments.

Balitang Pinas Trending’s fake post could have reached over 30,500 people, with traffic to the post from social media largely coming from FB group Duterte KFWIPB inc. Kilusang Filipino Walang Iwanan sa PagBabago ng Bayan.

Balitang Pinas Trending was created on July 4, 2017.

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


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About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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