VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video FALSELY claims PNoy was murdered

The alleged “secret footage” of the supposed killing of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III that’s circulating on social media is actually a December 1997 drug buy-bust surveillance video of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The erroneous video’s voiceover claimed they were able to “gather evidence proving” the truth behind Aquino’s death.

Aquino was not murdered. He died of renal disease secondary to diabetes as disclosed by his sisters on June 24, the day he was found dead in his Quezon City residence.

The false clip, uploaded online on July 3 by Youtube channel Erl Peonila and reposted on the same day by Facebook (FB) pages Idol Rafytulo Tv5 and Raffy New Live, bore the title “LIHIM NA ACTUAL VIDEO FOOTAGE SA PAG PATAY KAY NOYNOY AQUINO LUMABAS AT VIRAL NGAYON SA SOCIAL MEDIA (A secret actual video footage of the murder of Noynoy Aquino is currently circulating and viral on social media).”

It showed a black-and-white image of a room and a man who had his back to the camera. It bore the timestamp “1/30/97 THU 5:53:15PM”, looking like it was grabbed from a surveillance video. The voiceover said it was from a “footage showing how Aquino was killed.”

However, running the photo on reverse image search yielded a video result from stock image website Getty Images. It was from a footage taken over two decades ago by the FBI during a buy-bust operation it conducted in Kansas City, Missouri.

The man in the photo was identified to be FBI informant Joe Bartels. The video actually shows how he was killed by Joe Riley, the target of the buy-bust.

After falsely claiming that the footage was of Aquino’s “murder”, the voiceover then stated a disclaimer saying “no evidence proves the accuracy and credibility of the circulating footage.”

Earlier in the clip, the voiceover also said that the video contains only the “personal opinion” of its creators. It then apologized to the viewers in case the clip included inaccurate details, explaining that they only get their information from unidentified “surveys”.

Despite this, netizens were quick to fall for the falsehood. While some social media users called out the Youtube channel and the two FB pages for peddling wrong information, others were quick to share the video without recognizing its falsity.

Erl Peonila’s Youtube video already got over 89,000 views from netizens, while the copies reposted on FB by Idol Rafytulo Tv5 and Raffy New Live collectively received around 900,000 views, 7,400 reactions, 2,000 comments, and 500 shares.

Erl Peonila became a channel in October 2015, while Idol Rafytulo Tv5 and Raffy New Live were created in September and October 2020, respectively.


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

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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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