VERA FILES FACT CHECK: RMN posts FAKE report, uses SATIRE as real news

A spoof that has been passed off as a legitimate news report by broadcasting network Radio Mindanao Network is currently making rounds on social media.

Shared repeatedly from June 29 to July 3 by several social media pages, the Feb. 23 report - written in Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, the local language in Iloilo - claimed two priests from “Santiago De Compostela Cathedral” were arrested after putting marijuana in an incense burner. The report also carried a photo of the supposed burner being used in a Eucharistic service.

The story, which bore the headline "2 ka pari arestado bangud ginbutangan sang marijuana ang insensohan nga gamit sa misa (2 priests arrested for putting marijuana in incense used in mass)," was published in the website of RMN, under its DYRI 774 Iloilo Sports and Entertainment tab.

RMN's report very closely resembles versions of the story published in January and February by two foreign satirical websites, and even carries the same photo.

A fact check done last February by Flemish application developer Maarten Schenck, who monitors and debunks misinformation online, reveals the English version of the story posted by website and the Spanish version by were published with the disclaimer that they are fictional.

RMN fails to do this.

The photo used in the stories was also a low quality version of a March 2017 picture of the Botafumeiro, the infamous large incense burner of the Santiago De Compostela Cathedral uploaded by Flickr user @subherwal.

The cathedral is not in the Philippines; it is located in Galicia, Spain.

RMN's fake story, which could have reached over 245,000 people, went viral again shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte refused to apologize for the remark he made during a June 22 conference in Davao, where he said "God is stupid."

Traffic to the story was largely generated from social media by Facebook pages Duterte Against All Odds (Bravery and Patriotism), 420 Philippines and The President Duterte Guardians. RMN, which lists 59 radio stations under its helm, was established in 1952.

(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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