Reports about the alleged surrender of 90 members of the local terrorists Maute Group have been circulating in social media these past few days. They bore the headline, “Breaking: Nakakagulat Ang Pagsuko ng 90 Mauti Members, Bumahag Ang Buntot ng Inulan ng Pagsabog. And yes, whoever wrote the headline misspelled “Maute,” despite how infamous the group has become one of the hottest topics in the media for over two weeks now due to the conflict in Marawi City.
Several Facebook pages, many of which are proclaiming support for President Duterte, are among those that shared the report. These include Pres. Duterte Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago, Pres. Rody Duterte Worldwide Supporters, President Rodrigo “Rody” Roa Duterte Supporters, and Duterte News Global, among other pages.
We also noticed how a certain Kevin Salamanes kept posting the report from the du30gov.info with the same headline to a few support pages on Facebook.
But when we tried to click on the link posted by du30gov.info, it gave a 404 error, notifying that the page can no longer be found on its server.
The other blogs still carrying the report are duterteparallel.org and du30newsglobal.com. Both sites contained only a 38–minute YouTube video.
We later found out that the video was actually the June 5 “Mindanao Hour”press briefing provided by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
We watched the video, which showed Abella giving updates in terms of the number of civilians killed, civilians rescued, enemies killed, recovered firearms, government casualties, as well as the augmentation assistance given, displaced families, and Disaster Operation Centers deployed.
Padilla, on the other hand, reported how they could not give specific figures as to the number of terrorists in Marawi City, how surprised they were by Indonesian reports that foreign elements are coming in, and why the ground commanders are much more able to assess when the conflict may end after President Duterte said on June 3 that it would end in three days.
There was no mention about the surrender of 90 Maute members, so whoever are behind the YouTube video and the blogs changed the title to make it seem like the mass surrender happened and mislead their readers.
You can watch the original June 5 Mindanao Hour coverage here:
When we Googled “90 maute members surrender,” these came up in the search engine results:
The figure 90 was used in the reports saying that as of May 31, the AFP has cleared 90 percent of Marawi City.
There were also other Maute-related reports using the number 90 and those were about how the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) released the individual photos of 90 members of the Maute Group on June 2 in the hope of getting help from the public to arrest the militants.
But in terms of the number of Maute members surrendering, Padilla said during the Palace news briefing on May 31 that there were eight of them who surrendered to the government forces. Yes, 82 less than the number being spread by the blogs mentioned above.
This is not entirely a new tactic. The fake news makers may make up an entire story, but many often choose to mix the truth with the lies to make it harder for the people to spot the latter. This time around, they stamped an entirely new headline to the genuine Palace news briefing to spread misinformation. Beware of such tactics. Google and search engines are only a few clicks away. Use them as your weapons against being misled and being accused of propagating fake news.