Ah, the mighty Mocha Uson with her five million fuming Facebook followers. Let’s talk about the sexy star-turned-government official and the sudden swell of fake news in the Philippines that coincided with her rise.
She recently earned a formal position in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) as assistant secretary and now rakes in a monthly salary of up to P106,000, but still doesn’t seem to know any better. Or does she?
Over the weekend, Uson shared a controversial post from a Facebook group that featured a photo of soldiers kneeling while praying. Her caption read: “Let’s pray for our army. Panalangin din po natin ang mga pamilyang naiwan at nababahala sa kalagayan ng kanilang asawa at tatay.”
This is timely for the Marawi siege, where over 100 have died. We all know the intention was good. The thing is, the soldiers in the photo she shared weren’t our heroic troops from the Philippine Army.
News site Rappler and eagle-eyed netizens were quick to point out the error based on the flag sigil on the vest of soldiers, who actually turned out to be policemen from Honduras.
Uson has since deleted the post. However, she slammed Rappler for supposedly not having “common sense.”
In her defense, she explained: “Rappler minsan gumamit din ng common sense wag masyadong mag magaling. I did not say na Philippine Army yan. I did not say that picture was taken from Marawi. It's a symbol of army praying,” she said.
“Common sense lang na hindi sa atin yan kasi may flag sila sa vest nila. Ba't ko ipo-post na sa Pilipinas yan e may flag nga ng ibang bansa. Common sense na it is a symbolism.”
Is this a big deal for what others believe is an honest—though unadmitted—mistake? Well, not really, but her dismissive and unapologetic stance makes it easier for her detractors to critice, a concept she clearly can’t grasp.
As a blogger who is now also a full-fledged government official from no less than the administration’s communications arm, Uson should be held to a certain degree of accountability, responsibility, and liability for her posts, which strongly influence millions of Filipinos with one click.
But granted that she’s telling the truth, this still isn’t the first time that Uson and other personalities and agencies have been accused of posting unverified news items.
Below is a short compilation of recent fake news stories that have spread like wildfire on social media and have fooled the gullible Filipino public.
1) Article '263'
Last March, Uson tried to chime in on the Mighty Corp. tax evasion issue by bringing her Constitutional expertise to the table. Unfortunately for Uson, her knowledge of the Constitution literally went overboard.
To her credit, Uson admitted that this was indeed an honest mistake.
She also issued an erratum although, as usual, she didn’t miss the chance to bash Vice President Leni Robredo, who didn't really have anything to do with her error.
2) Nine-year-old rape victim
Just after the elections, a photo of a 9-year-old rape victim, who was supposedly killed by drug addicts in the Philippines, started going viral on newsfeeds.
One of the people who posted this was Peter Tiu Laviña, who happens to be the campaign spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte. Laviña used his post to hit back against the detractors of Duterte’s bloody drug war.
It was later found out that the girl was actually from Brazil and that the tragic incident happened back in 2014 in Altamira.
3) PNA's 'Marawi photo'
Even the Philippine News Agency (PNA) is not safe from fake news anymore. On May 27, The PNA published an article on their website, which was accompanied by a photo showing a soldier peering into homes.
According to the state-run agency article, these were Filipino soldiers deployed to Marawi City. The only problem here is they aren’t, because they were actually soldiers from Vietnam.
The PNA has already removed the image. They have also apologized for the blunder and vowed to review their reportage procedures so as not to repeat the same mistake.
4) #WalangPasokSaRamadan (pero meron pala)
Just last week, everyone got excited after news of a supposed official proclamation No. 197 stated that there will be no classes on Friday, May 26 due to the start of the Ramadan period.
This was shared on a suspicious Facebook account that carried the name of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista. It turns out that this was fake news, but it was too late since the post already went viral.
The QC public affairs department later on clarified this and stated that the account that uploaded the fake news post—which has since been deleted—was not owned by Mayor Bautista.
That’s a ton of canceled long weekend vacationing.
5) Imelda Marcos' 'untimely passing'
Earlier this month, Bacoor city Mayor Lani Mercado Revilla made a boo-boo after tweeting condolences to the Marcos family for the supposed death of Former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos.
Of course, this wasn’t true and Mercado immediately apologized, but both tweets, including her apology regarding the issue seem to have been deleted now.
6) The Inquirer's faux pas
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time and that includes even The Inquirer. Unfortunately for them, Mocha Uson gets her revenge after the broadsheet company, which has made sure to always report on Uson and fake news to the point that they’ve become synonymous, posted an incorrect photo of the situation in Marawi City siege last week.
The Inquirer has already apologized for the error and also clarified that the photos were sent by a reliable source who happens to be a government official from Marawi City.
7) Etta Rosales defends the Maute group
A meme has recently been circulating online featuring former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales supposedly taking the side of the Maute group, which is mainly responsible for the violent siege in Marawi City.
The meme was initially shared on the Bisaya Pa More Facebook page and is obviously fake, but it has already garnered 7,200 likes and over 11,300 shares as of posting time. Needless to say, the comments section also mostly spouts off hatred against Rosales.
Rosales for her part has issued a statement belying the meme. The original owner of the photo used in the meme is planning to take legal action against those responsible.
8) Earthquake alarmists
There’s been a lot of talk regarding the “Big One” or what’s supposed to be a powerful earthquake that will cause massive damage to Metro Manila.
While it’s true that there’s a possibility of this destructive calamity occurring within our lifetime, there’s just no way that an earthquake can be predicted with the world’s current technology. With that said, do be wary of posts like these:
In these situations, always remember to listen to verified sources of information like the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to avoid panic.
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