VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Roque DID NOT say 10k coronavirus deaths ‘will not be a loss’ for PH

A viral quote card of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque brushing aside thousands of deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic is fake. The concocted statement that 10 million COVID-19 cases in the country “will not be a loss” even if 10,000 people die, was also being passed off as a post by the Manila Bulletin.

Both Roque and the national daily have denied making the statement and publishing the graphic.

Roque debunked the claim in a virtual presser on Aug. 11, saying it was “very different” from his statement. He reminded the public to get updates only from his official FB page or the FB page of his office.

On Aug. 8, Manila Bulletin’s official FB page also said they “never published” the graphic.

The spurious post first surfaced on Aug. 8, a day after Roque took note of news that the Philippines has become “Southeast Asia’s COVID-19 hotspot,” taking over Indonesia with more than 119,000 cases at the time. He said the higher numbers reflect the country’s “intensified” testing capacity.

A closer inspection shows the quote card is a manipulated version of an Aug. 7 FB post by the Bulletin, which quoted another statement by Roque about Indonesia. Manila Bulletin’s original text was covered with black paint and replaced with the concocted quote.

The earliest traceable copy of the post was published by a netizen on Aug. 8, which has gained over 7,700 reactions, most of which are Angry FB reacts, and more than 11,000 shares. A look at the comments and captions in shares of the netizen’s fake graphic shows many believed the fake quote to be true, and even cursed Roque for making such remarks.

At least seven FB pages and one other netizen re-published his fake post until Aug. 11, with some covering the Bulletin logo. Apart from the netizen, the accounts that generated the most interactions to the fake graphic are FB pages Idiots in Government, Pinoy Laugh Page and FB group PROTECT ABS CBN GROUP, created Nov. 24, 2019, April 14, 2011 and July 16, respectively.

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