VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Robredo did NOT have a cheat sheet during the CNN Ph debate


In a Feb. 28 Facebook (FB) post, a supporter of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. claimed that Vice President Leni Robredo had a cheat sheet during the presidential debate organized by CNN Philippines the previous day. Not true.

Robredo and eight other presidential hopefuls participated in said debate. Only Marcos declined CNN Philippines’ invitation due to conflict of schedule.

The netizen’s false claim used an 18-second clip from the two-hour and 50-minute-long forum that showed Robredo flipping through sheets of paper.

A text overlaid on the clip read “CHEATING?,” an allegation stressed by the netizen’s caption in its post: “Is this why Leni sounded prepared during the CNN debate?”

The pieces of paper Robredo was holding during the debate were not cheat sheets, but scratch papers provided by CNN Philippines to the presidential aspirants and were used for notetaking.

Veteran journalist and CNN Philippines anchor Pia Hontiveros explicitly said at one point during the debate that the candidates did not bring with them notes nor cheat sheets:

Wala pong dalang notes ang ating mga candidates. Wala pong kodigo, walang gadgets. Ang meron sila, papel at ballpen, at doon sila nagno-notetaking. So either meron po silang photographic memory or may guardian angel sila. Pero wala po silang notes.”

(The candidates did not bring notes with them. There are no cheat sheets, no gadgets. What they have are paper and ballpen which they use for notetaking. So it is either they have photographic memory or they have a guardian angel. But they do not have notes.)

Robredo herself uploaded in a Feb. 28 FB post photos of the papers where she wrote down her notes during the debate. “The challenge is always how to encapsulate all you need to say in the 1.5 minutes given to you. Good thing the organizers gave us a pen and some sheets of paper. Very useful in organizing my thoughts,” she wrote.

Doc Willie Ong, one of the vice presidential candidates who participated in CNN Philippines’ Vice Presidential Debate on Feb. 26, also published in a Feb. 27 FB post the “quick scribbles” or notes he took to answer the “surprise questions” thrown to the aspirants during the live forum.

The netizen’s spurious FB post already got almost 2,000 reactions, over 270 comments, and 415 shares. The video has been viewed 11,000 times and could have reached more than 211,000 FB users, as per social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

Top traffic to the post came from public groups Support Jeffrey “Ka Eric”Celiz, STOP CORRUPTION PHILIPPINES ORG., INC., and Cainta barangay san juan Online Seller.

University of the Philippines-based fact-checking initiative FactRakers debunked a similar claim in late February.


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