VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Old photos, claims with no basis used in FALSE story vs clergy

A fabricated story vilifying members of the clergy with outdated photos and baseless claims was published June 22 by the website

Bearing the headline “BREAKING NEWS:WATCH: PARI AT MADRE MINURA SI DIGONG SA KANILANG PANALANGIN-PANOORIN (Breaking news: Watch: Priest and nun curse Digong in their prayer-Watch),” the story carried as its content a video with a thumbnail that splices together two photos with the text, “MINURA SI DIGONG HABANG NAGDADASAL (Digong was cursed during prayer).”

The images, also used in several other questionable news items attacking the Catholic Church, are actually:

  • an October 2016 photo by Shirley Paraiso of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ media arm, CBCP News, showing members of the Order of Friars Minors-Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation at a protest against extrajudicial killings.
  • an August 2013 photo in a blog named Naquem showing activist nun Mary John Mananzan, St. Scholastica’s College vice president for external affairs, speaking at the 2013 Million People March against lawmakers’ pork barrel fund.

The claim that priests and nuns “cursed” President Rodrigo Duterte in their prayers is baseless; neither the website nor Dante Maravillas, the Albay-based netizen speaking in the video, cited any specific instance where the clerics did so., which began publishing stories May 22, posted the false report the same day Duterte drew flak for saying “God is stupid” during a conference in Davao City.

The story could have reached over 544,000 people, its traffic largely generated from social media by the pages Durtete ang Boses ng Masa, Duterte Ako Hanggang Sa Huling Laban and Solid Duterte-Marcos Supporters.

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