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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Oblation Run photo ALTERED, not a protest vs communists

The original photo showed the demonstrators raising blank plywood signboards.

Jan 26, 2021

VERA Files

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A netizen posted on Jan. 20 a digitally edited photo of participants of the Oblation Run, an annual streaking event at the University of the Philippines (UP). The image intended to show the students defending the school against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front (NDF).

The circulating post is fake. The original image was a Feb. 8, 2019 Rappler photo of the event that year where members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity — which conducts the event to spotlight certain public issues — wore white masks, covered their mouths with black tape, and raised blank plywood signboards. The 2019 run was a campaign to defend freedom of speech and the right to self-determination.

News articles about the 2019 run show evidence that the participants indeed carried text-less signages.

To make it look like the APO members were protesting against alleged communists in the university, the sign boards were manipulated to show the following text: “LAYAS cpp-nda-ndf DITO SA UP CAMPUS (CPP-NPA-NDF get out of the UP campus)” and “#DefendUPFromCPPNPANDF #CPPHandsOffUP.”

The spurious graphic was shared on the public Facebook (FB) group News Natin To, which describes itself as a “Page for anyone supporting the eradication of the CPP-NPA-NDF Terrorist communist group.”

The FB user who posted the manipulated image also added a banner above and below the picture that read: “PALAYASIN ANG MGA CPP-NPA-NDF SA UP CAMPUS (Expel CPP-NPA-NDF members in UP campus)” and “ANG HUBAD NG KATOTOHANAN SA LOOB NG UP CAMPUS IBULGAR (Expose the naked truth inside UP campus).”

The erroneous post so far has 736 reactions, 978 shares and 276 comments, with other netizens commenting that UP students are “demons who should be shot,” “pests of society,” and “useless NPA who should be burned alive.”

The false post surfaced two days after reports came out that the Department of National Defense unilaterally terminated a decades-old accord with UP that prevents state forces from entering its campuses without prior notification. (Read: VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What the unilateral termination of the UP-DND accord means)

Among the top traffic generators to the post, which could have reached more than 803,000 people, are FB groups MARCOS PA RIN and SUPPORT GENERAL PARLADE AND ERIC, and the page WE SUPPORT AFP, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

News Natin To was created last October 2020.

(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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