FACT CHECK News PHL Vote 2022

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: SMNI anchor falsely claims Robredo laid conditions for attending debate


Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) News anchor Mike Abe said Vice President Leni Robredo demanded to be interviewed only by a certain “media personality” for the network’s Feb. 15 debate among candidates for president in the May 9 polls.

This is not true. Robredo’s spokesperson said the allegation is a “complete fabrication.”


A few hours before the Feb. 15 debate, Abe said in SMNI News’ Usaping Bayan program:


“Itong si Leni, isa pang pasaway itong si Leni. Nag-demand pa ng personality sa media na mag-i-interview sa kanya, sasali sa debate. Nung pagbigyan, umatras din. Anong klaseng kandidato ‘yan?”

(This Leni, Leni is just as stubborn. She demanded that another media personality interview her, to join the debate. After being accommodated, she still backed out. What kind of candidate is that?

Source: SMNI News, Mike Abe: Wala kayong isang salita, mambobola kayo, Feb. 15, 2022, watch from 17:40 to 17:54

The SMNI News video has been viewed more than 306,000 times as of Feb. 21. It has garnered more than 1,000 Facebook (FB) interactions and potentially reached more than 622,000 netizens, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle. Its top traffic generator is the FB page Team Philippines.

A day later, two FB users reposted Abe’s false claim. Their posts have collectively garnered more than 6,400 reactions, 601 comments, and 2,800 shares as of Feb. 21.

TikTok user dennissaint_five also posted on Feb. 16 a snippet of Abe’s statement in the SMNI News program. It has been viewed more than 260,600 times and has garnered over 29,800 interactions as of Feb. 21.


Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, said in a Viber message to VERA Files Fact Check on Feb. 16 that the claim is “false and a complete fabrication.”

Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, did not attend the debate due to their “long-standing commitment” to meet their campaign leaders and supporters in Panay Island. It was the first time Robredo failed to join a presidential debate for the 2022 elections.

Fellow candidates Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao Jr. likewise declined to join the SMNI debate for various reasons.

SMNI is owned by controversial church leader Apollo Quiboloy, who is currently wanted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation on sex trafficking charges.

The false claim started circulating a few hours before the network’s presidential debate, attended by four of the 10 candidates for president.


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SMNI News, Mike Abe: Wala kayong isang salita, mambobola kayo, Feb. 15, 2022

Barry Gutierrez, private message to VERA Files Fact Check, Feb. 16, 2022


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)