In the Philippines, Flourishing Ecosystem for Political Fraud

CAVITE, Philippines – Arnel Agravante, a YouTuber in the Philippines, told his followers last October that he knew that Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the presidential candidate and his chosen candidate, had passed. to become rich.

The story, he says, is simple: Mr. Marcos’s father-in-law, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has not stolen money from the government, as has been widely reported. Instead, he receives large sums of money from a secret royal family in the Philippines. Mr. “That is what they call ‘bad money’,” Agravante said, referring to Mr. Agravante. Marcos critics.

The hot story has been removed by many fact-finders and by Mr. Marcos himself, but that did not stop Mr. Agravante again. The way he sees it, he is part of the “other media” against the critical news “spreading stupid and inaccurate information about our history” before next week’s election .

Richard Heydarian, a political analyst at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said: these lies and deceptions, ”said Richard Heydarian, a political analyst at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Most of the fake news is being peddled on Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. The Dark Ages Marcos was dismissed as a period of rapid economic growth and construction. Leni Robredo, National Vice President and Mr. Marcos’ first candidate, being painted as a communist who could do nothing in office.

In a video, Jovalyn Alcantara, known to his 24,000 TikTok followers as Mami Peng, falsely claimed that the Philippines’s debt had doubled to $ 50 billion, according to Corazon Aquino, who became president at behind the fall of Marcos dictatorship.

“So what if it’s wrong?” he said when a New York Times reporter pointed out that he was not. His films have been viewed more than 27,000 times.

President Rodrigo Duterte won the 2016 election in part because his friends flooded Facebook with false information about his protesters. But Mr. Marcos fans have chosen a different way for broadcasting: livestream movies.

YouTubers livestream Mr. Marcos protests when it comes to candidate descriptions of elections. They misrepresented her financial status and reiterated that Ms. Robredo lied to win it in the 2016 presidential race.

Analysts estimate that the army of these streamers is so large and so passionate that Mr. Marcos will often turn to him – not to the media – to announce his words as president.

Benjamin Abalos Jr., Mr. “Every candidate, every political party is involved in false information,” Marcos’s presidential candidate told The Times.

The streamers said they were not paid by the Marcos camp, even though they were recognized as “vloggers” and marched free of his attacks. A dozen of their channels have a total of 1.6 million YouTube subscribers and more than 500,000 followers on Facebook, according to a survey by The Times.

A YouTube spokesperson said the company removed more than 400,000 videos in February 2021 and January for violating hate speech, harassment and illegal elections. . An expert for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said the account flags from Time had been misrepresented and had been banned from publishing the ads.

But misinformation cannot be verified or easily removed while alive, and the development of apps like TikTok has made it difficult to eliminate malicious people. .

“If this election actually uses inaccurate data, this will become a trial and error model that will be used in every election,” Ms. Robredo warned in a speech to the Catholic Church, urging people in the Philippines not to believe the lies online. .

Yvonne Chua, director of Tsek.ph, a fact-finding mission in the Philippines, said in an email that the fact-finding by most of his partners was directed at Mr. Marcos supporters, who “were involved in many fires.”

“You also see inaccurate data from some candidates, but these are rare,” said Professor Chua, a journalism expert at the University of the Philippines.

Mr. Agravante, who supported the debunked opinion of Mr. Marcos Wealth, a pre-determined phone agent who decided to become a full-time YouTuber last year, created his favorite movie app for his 109,000 users. A longtime supporter of Mr. Marcos, he knows that the candidate has rejected the claim about the gold. However, Mr.

“Why did I change my mind because he refused?” he said.

The Power of Favorite Movies is like that created by Mr. Agravante is that “they look like real or organic,” said Jonathan Corpus Ong, a false scientist at Harvard. “They sound like words of the street or ordinary people, compared to the professional producers and musicians of the Robredo campaign.”

Pro-Marcos movies often use high-quality captions and beautiful graphics and images of Mr. Marcos and Sara Duterte, Mr. Duterte daughter, who is the president. This video features an interview with the Marcos Acolyte, which claims that the 1986 Human Power, which overthrew the Marcos government, is the product of a “brainwashing” by the Aquino family.

Vincent Tabigue, who made the film, has filed several anti-Marcoses lawsuits, pointing out that no family members have been jailed for stealing money from the government. “That was just a protest against the government,” he told The Times.

Mr. Tabigue, 27, said he quit his job as a salesperson to become a full-time YouTuber in 2019 and he earns nearly $ 10,000 a month.

Although no one in the Marcos family was detained, Mr. Marcos’ mother, Imelda, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for establishing a private base to conceal her unexplained wealth. It announced release in 2018; his appeal is pending.

The Senate acknowledged the issue of data breach in the Philippines in 2018 as it held several hearings on the issue. But no major steps have been agreed, leaving a lawmaker struggling to get the governance issue under control.

In February, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who was running for vice president in support of Ms. Robredo, called on the Senate to investigate illegal laws to curb inaccuracies and asked for legislation to resolve the issue. His efforts went nowhere.

On a recent ride with Mr. Marcos president of the race, Ms. Alcantara, a TikTok activist, holds a phone in his left hand as he helps other supporters set up his campaign. With the other hand, it flashed the symbol of peace, the symbol of business of Mr. Marcos father.

“Marcos always!” he shouted.

Ms. Alcantara, 44, said her TikTok account had been suspended several times after being reported by Ms. Robredo supporters. “Why the only problem with our Marcos supporters?” he asked. “It’s like any other candidate supporters do. They also preach skeptical words, right?

She cried as she remembered the “good things” that Marcoses had done for her community. “This is the time we have been waiting for,” he said.

Sui-Lee Wee and Jason Gutierrez help guide.

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