VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Sarah Elago 'quote' telling people to ‘sneeze with eyes open’ NOT TRUE

A netizen published a fake quote card of Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago where she advised the public to sneeze with their eyes wide open to see if they might be infecting other people.

On March 23, a netizen uploaded on Facebook a counterfeit version of a graphic published on the party-list’s official FB page on March 16. The original quote card featured Elago’s response to a statement by then-Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo saying “nobody dies of hunger,” as concerns were raised about food security during the Luzon lockdown:

“It's not only insensitive and callous, but also, dangerous, since it downplays the urgency and necessity of immediate relief and food assistance to those whose jobs and livelihood are now heavily affected.”

The counterfeit FB post placed a blue rectangle over the original text, and superimposed this fabricated statement over it: “katulad nga ng sinabi ni VP Leni na kung uubo kayo ay pahigop, ang payo ko naman ay kapag hahatsing ka dapat nakadilat para makita kung may tatamaan (Just as VP Leni said that you should suck in your cough, my advice is that if you sneeze, keep your eyes open to see if you are sneezing on somebody).”

A phrase on the upper right corner of the quote card also shows the text, “On Spox Panelo’s denial of hunger crisis in PH,” which was present in the Kabataan Partylist’s original graphic.

The partylist representative refuted the fake quote card in an April 6 FB post, where she warned against the “continued proliferation of fake news and disinformation” about her and her organization.

Also, the “statement” of Vice President Leni Robredo mentioned in the fake statement -- where she allegedly told people to suck in their cough -- is not true. VERA Files Fact Check debunked two versions of this claim last month.

The fake post on Elago surfaced around the same time she expressed concern in a series of FB posts over a measure seeking to grant Pres. Rodrigo Duterte special powers to address the COVID-19 emergency. The law was eventually signed on March 24.

The netizen’s fake quote card continues to be shared three weeks after publication. It has received over 1,400 reactions from social media users, most of which are Laugh reacts. The comments and shares, with a combined total of over 4,200, are mixed. Some netizens call the material “fake,” others believe it, while some question its veracity.

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


VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizens post another FAKE Robredo ‘quote’ about proper respiratory hygiene

This post is fake. Don't believe it.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Robredo quote on ‘sucking in’ cough to prevent virus spread NOT TRUE

This post is fake. Don't believe it.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Elago quote on lockdown as ‘human rights violation’ FAKE

The legislator made no such remark.

About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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