VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Report on Richard Gomez in ‘critical condition’ FAKE

A fake story claiming that actor and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez is in “critical” condition after figuring in an “accident” in Kananga municipality in Leyte circulated among Facebook (FB) users from March 20 to March 22. This is a hoax.

Gomez himself, in a March 20 post on his official FB page, refuted the report and called it “fake news.” The Ormoc City government on March 25 also published a video on its FB account where the mayor is seen laughing off the reports on his “accident” at the start of a press briefing where he talked about COVID-19 cases and vaccination plans, among others.

The fabricated story was published by the website gmaregionallive.xyz, ostensibly impersonating GMA Network. Its thumbnail spuriously copied the format of a report by the station's morning news show Unang Balita sa Unang Hirit and carried this concocted text in its news ticker: “Richard Gomez, naaksidente sa bayan ng Kananga. Richard, nasa kritikal na kondisyon (Richard Gomez got in an accident in Kananga town. Richard, in critical condition)!”

It spliced together a January 2020 photo from Gomez’s Instagram account with an image showing the aftermath of a road crash. When opened, the story link leads to a web page that redirects to another website — trend-portal5.xyz. It carries a video that shows a nine-year-old 24 Oras Weekend report about a car crash in Mandaluyong City in 2012. It had nothing to do with Gomez.

The video in trend-portal5.xyz shows a news anchor saying “Isa na namang madugong aksidente ang nangyari… (Another bloody accident happened…)” and stops after three seconds, duping viewers into thinking it was about the Ormoc chief executive. But this is a common tactic used by hoax producers flagged in the past by VERA Files Fact Check.

A search in the domain database WHOIS shows that the domain gmaregionallive.xyz was registered just last March 17. Trend-portal5.xyz was listed as a website two days prior.

The hoax on Gomez was shared by FB pages Metroviralpinas, Trending 24/7, and Viral News Today Pilipinas, and in public groups PinakaMurang Bentahan Ng Motor Cavite Area Only 10k Pababa, Aerox/NVX 155 Club of the Philippines, Tyrone Tiaga Fans Official Group(Phillipines), and GTA SAN ANDREAS GAMERS.

The engagements collectively received by these posts have totalled over 350 reactions and 540 shares.

(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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