VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Sites MISLEAD by inaccurately quoting Archbishop Villegas

Update: Website Citizen Express corrected its headline on July 22.

Websites Citizen Express ( and Philip Nhatkimanh ( published stories with misleading headlines on July 11 and 12, respectively, twisting a statement made by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on the issue of ABS-CBN’s denied bid for a new franchise.

In its titles, both stories reported Villegas as saying, “Kongreso, naging sunud-sunuran kay DU30 sa ABS-CBN Franchise Denial (Congress was subservient to Duterte on ABS-CBN franchise denial)!”

The clergyman’s actual quote was part of a statement he made on July 11 and published the next day on Facebook (FB), was:

“The President’s threats to close the station are a matter of public record. Now that the matter of the franchise has been dealt a final blow by the Lower House, can our people be blamed for the perception that Congress, supposedly a fiercely independent body of the people’s representative, has bent over in subservience to the President?”

Portions of Archbishop Villegas’ statement were published in the body of the two stories.

Villegas’ statement was a reaction to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises’ vote on July 10 to deny ABS-CBN’s application for a new 25-year franchise.

Citizen Express’s inaccurate report has received over 7,200 interactions on FB so far, while Philip Nhatkimanh’s version has over 1,900 FB interactions. Top traffic generators to the reports are public FB groups PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT, Manang Imee Marcos and FB page D Express.

Citizen Express was created on Oct. 24, 2017. Philip Nhatkimanh began publishing only last March 3. Both have a history of publishing disinformation.

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