VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Story on Dong-Hontiveros link NEEDS CONTEXT

UPDATE: has corrected their story on Feb. 15.

A Feb. 5 story by cherry-picked information on Kenneth Dong, the Filipino-Chinese businessman arrested in connection with the P6.4-billion “shabu” smuggling case in 2017.

The misleading report highlighted the link between Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Dong, who was apprehended by the National Bureau of Investigation on Feb. 4.

Headlined, “Watch! Inaanak ni Hontiveros na Alleged P6.4 Billion Shabu Middleman, Arestado ng NBI (Watch! Hontiveros’ godson alleged to be P6.4 billion shabu middleman, arrested by NBI)!,” the website identified the opposition senator as a godmother at Dong’s 2013 wedding and used the following as its thumbnail:

  • a September 2018 Rappler photo of the senator
  • a photo supposedly of Dong and Hontiveros that can be traced back to an August 2017 Facebook post
  • and a screengrab of a GMA report on Dong’s Feb. 4 arrest.

While Hontiveros already confirmed that she was a godmother at Dong’s wedding, misleads by selectively choosing to focus solely on the senator’s relationship to Dong. It fails to mention that other lawmakers were also principal sponsors in Dong’s wedding, namely senators Miguel Zubiri and Kiko Pangilinan, who have both confirmed this in public statements.

Sen. Joel Villanueva also admitted in a news report that Dong was a contributor to his 2016 senatorial campaign. Dong has also been linked to presidential sons Paolo and Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, with photos released by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in a 2017 senate hearing on the smuggling incident. Dong has said he is merely acquainted with both Dutertes.’s misleading story was published a day after the NBI nabbed Dong, about a year after an arrest warrant was issued against him and several others for their alleged involvement in the importation of illegal drugs. Authorities had found billions of pesos worth of shabu or methamphetamine from China in a Valenzuela City warehouse in May 2017, which the Bureau of Customs failed to flag.

This story could have reached over 696,000 people, with traffic to the story largely coming from pages Tulfo Brothers Worldwide, DUTERTE MARCOS SUPPORTERS, HARRY ROQUE, BONG GO, GEN. BATO, DOC. WILLIE, FRANCIS TOLENTINO SA SENADO. was created on Oct. 24, 2017.

VERA Files Fact Check has published at least two other stories from that turned out to be false and misleading.

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