VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Report claiming Duterte ordered Hontiveros' arrest over PhilHealth mess FAKE NEWS

Several social media pages shared on Facebook last week a fabricated story by website ddsnewsfiles.xyz claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of Sen. Risa Hontiveros for corruption during her term as director at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

Ddsnewsfiles.xyz's fake story, published on Nov. 22, bore the headline, "JUST IN: PRRD IPAPAKULONG SI RISA HONTIVEROS DAHIL SA NAKAWAN SA PHILHEALTH! (Just in: PRRD is having Risa Hontiveros jailed for corruption in PhilHealth),"and carried as its content a video that has been made unavailable by Youtube.

Duterte has made no such pronouncement. There are no news reports nor official government records that show the president having ordered Hontiveros' arrest.

Ddsnewsfiles.xyz is also wrong in claiming Hontiveros, a former PhilHealth board member, was involved in the Commission on Audit's finding about past administrations of PhilHealth having released P163.85 million in "unauthorized" bonuses to its employees in 2009, 2010 and 2014.

PhilHealth itself told VERA Files that Hontiveros is not included in the notices of disallowance COA has issued them. The senator's office also said in an email to VERA Files that Hontiveros only took office in November 2014, and that "the said bonuses were approved before Sen. Hontiveros' term as member of PhilHealth's board." (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Online posts claiming Hontiveros involved in PhilHealth bonuses mess FALSE)

Despite removal of the accompanying Youtube video of Ddsnewsfiles.xyz's fake news post, it continues to be shared on Facebook. It was published a day after Hontiveros released a statement on Nov. 21 saying Duterte should "stop kowtowing to China" and "assert Philippine sovereignty." Hontiveros made the statement as Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded his two-day state visit to the country.

The online post, when shared on social media, also features a thumbnail that splices together a screengrab of Duterte speaking at his State of the Nation Address in 2017, and another of Hontiveros and Liberal Party-mate Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino listening to Duterte's SONA.

The fake news could have reached over 393,000 people, with traffic from social media largely coming from the pages Greco Belgica, Duterte Against All Odds (Bravery and Patriotism), Inday Sarah Movement.

(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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