VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Story that Duterte is the new ‘ASEAN country coordinator’ incomplete, MISLEADING

A report published on Nov. 15 by website claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte was named the new country coordinator of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) because of the group’s confidence in him is misleading.‘s story bore the headline, “MUST WATCH: PRRD, ITINALAGANG BAGONG COUNTRY COORDINATOR NG ASEAN!!! Must watch: (PRRD declared new ASEAN country coordinator!!!).”

“WOW! Galing talaga ni Tatay D. malaki talaga tiwala nila sa ating Presidente, Mabuhay ka po Tatay D! sa mga ayaw kay PRRD, mga ayaw ng pagbabago, mamatay kayo sa inggit! (Father Duterte is really good. They really have confidence in our President, Long live Father D. To those who do not like PRRD, those who are against reforms, die of envy!),” the post further said. It was accompanied by a video report that day of News5.

There is no singular “ASEAN country coordinator.” The 10 Asean members take turns in serving as country coordinator in its dealings with the regional bloc’s 14 dialogue partners. Singapore was the country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations from August 2015 to August 2018.

On Nov. 14, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong formally announced that the Philippines is taking over as country coordinator for the dialogue relations between ASEAN and China during the 21st ASEAN-China Summit. Duterte, as the Philippines’ head of state, will hold the position until 2021.

At last week’s ASEAN Summit, Singapore handed over chairmanship of the regional association to Thailand.

A study from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University defines country coordinators as selected member countries that “facilitate communication and act as a forefront negotiator between ASEAN and designated dialogue partners.”

Duterte is expected – and has committed – to conclude during his term the drafting of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, a set of rules “which aims to prevent conflicting territorial claims” in the disputed waters.‘s misleading report was published a day after Duterte was formally named as ASEAN-China dialogue relations country coordinator.

The misleading report could have reached over 1.2 million people. Social media traffic to the story largely came from the pages Mayor Inday Sara Duterte Supporters, Solid Duterte-Marcos Supporters and President RodyDuterte Facebook Army. only began publishing stories on Sept. 15.

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