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Army hits ‘fake news’ over alleged abductions in Pangasinan encounter with NPA



The Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division (71D) slammed the spread of “fake news” about their encounter with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

According to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report, 1Lt. Catherine Hapin, chief of the 71D Kaugnay public information office, condemned how the “malicious information and fake news circulated through text messages and social media” have alarmed some residents.

Fake reports claimed that the NPA rebels abducted some mayors after the rebels’ encounter with the Army’s 3rd Maneuver Company of the Regional Public Safety Battalion 1 (RPSB1) in San Nicolas, particularly in Camps 3 and 4, and along the boundaries of Barangays Malico and Sta. Maria, and the entire San Nicolas.

The firefight led to the death of a soldier and several rebels with the arrival of the reinforcement troops from the 84th Infantry Battalion, who also conducted pursuit operations. The encounter also placed six district police stations in Pangasinan under full alert status.

No mayor was abducted in Pangasinan, Hapin clarified. She called the reports claiming otherwise to be “false and pure hearsay.”

“The situation has been contained and no enemy harassment has taken place in any of the barangays and towns of the province,” Hapin said.

We found this post about an alleged NPA abduction on Facebook.

The Philippine Army

Hapin said that the Office of the Municipal Mayor of San Nicolas has released an official statement regarding the fake news that caused the residents to panic. Here is their statement:

Hapin added that Major General Angelito M. de Leon, Commander of 71D Kaugnay, was “determined to see an end to the deplorable acts of the enemy and has ordered an intensified operations of troops to ensure that the enemy will never threaten the peace in Pangasinan.”

This is not the first time that a fake story about NPA rebel attacks has gone viral and caused panic among the citizens, though.

Fake news about student abductions

A Manila Times article covered the story about how officials in the local government units and public schools asked the public to stop spreading unverified news about the abduction of some students in Pangasinan by armed men believed to be NPA rebels.


“The fake news reports are very alarming to us and some of the parents refused to send their children to school for fear that they will be kidnapped by the NPA rebels,” some teachers told the newspaper in an exclusive interview on July 31.

Talongapor Elementary School principal also denied reports about student abductions in their town in Santa Maria, contrary to the reports posted on social media and broadcasted by Metro Manila-based radio stations.

San Nicholas school district supervisor Maxima Bandiola said that schools were still open on July 31 despite the fake reports on social media. She said that she gathered the school principals in her district and told them to encourage parents to continue sending their kids to school because reports of the NPA abductions in San Nicholas are untrue.

Fake news about NPA burning down Bukidnon school

In March, the NPA was the subject of another fake news after they were accused by the military of burning down a high school building in Valencia City.

Mary Jean Subayco, academic head and school secretary of Concepcion National High School in Brgy. Concepcion, Valencia, belied the military’s allegations against the rebels, adding that the source of the fire was an “electrical short circuit.” This is the same cause cited by the Bureau of Fire Protection in its report.

According to Subayco, a cellphone charger that remained plugged in the faculty room overheated, causing the fire. It burned the faculty room and the adjacent library.

Subayco contradicted military reports that the NPA caused the fire.

“I am teaching here (CNHS) for 3 years already and so far the NPA has not visited the school nor engaged in extortion activities,” she told Rappler in a phone interview.

She said the incident did not affect the classes, which went on as usual, except for the unfortunate occurrence of the burned textbooks in the school library.

The 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division reported that the NPA torched the school when the school officials refused to give them money.

First Lieutenant Erwin Bugarin, 8th Infantry Battalion’s civic military officer, said: “The rebel group asked their shared in the fund which was intended for the feeding program of their pupils.”

He added: “It is every evident that the NPA exempts no one in their extortion activities not even the schools which are essential in providing education for our country’s future.”

Meme Buster has also busted fake stories related to the NPA. We busted the fake story about the surrender of an NPA commander and 121 others in Bukidnon, the recycled story about the surrender of 154 NPA rebels allegedly under the Duterte admin although it actually happened in 2015, the NPA commander paying a percentage of revolutionary tax to leftist group BAYAN, former NPA commander owning 5-star resort in El Nido, and more.

Sources: ( , , )


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Fake news sites to be aware of this 2018



With the widespread practice of misinformation using made-up stories and maliciously edited photos, Senate hearings have been conducted to determine whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of fake news. But you can contribute to the prevention of misinformation in your own way by not patronizing the content of the fake news sites that are causing confusion and baseless hate in the country.

In 2017, MemeBuster has published two lists containing websites that have posted fake stories.

The following are sites that MemeBuster has encountered while we are pursuing our cause of fighting fake news.

We have categorized the sites into active and inactive ones, seeing as how many fake news sites tend to be unavailable after some time. As of February 15, 2018, these are the active and inactive sources of fake news that we have encountered. We will continue to update this list as we bust more false stories.

Active Sites

1. has been an active source of fake stories that MemeBuster has debunked over and over again. It is also quite known for its ever changing About Us page, which now says that the site started out publishing fake stories for some La Sallian students’ thesis, but that it has stopped in May 2017 to focus on serious topics and general information. But La Salle Dasmarinas disowned the said research. even lied when they said they stopped posting fake news by May 2017. Even as late as December 2017, we still caught them publishing fake stories, among which are about Sanofi Pasteur research and development department revealing that they used embalming chemicals for Dengvaxia, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV hiring Arturo Lascañas and Edgar Matobato as his personal bodyguards, former President Benigno Aquino saying he’s willing to return money he got from the Dengvaxia deal, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising visa-free entry to Filipino caregivers, and more.

This fake news site was also in our first list of fake news sites that we published in October 2016.

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Duterte raises bounty for killing communists to P25K



President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he is increasing the bounty he is offering for anyone who can kill communist rebels, saying it will be cheaper compared to waging a counterinsurgency campaign. The offer is now up from P20,000 to P25,000.

Duterte made the announcement at the oath-taking of newly-appointed officials in Malacañang. The president also reiterated that his controversial war on drugs will stay despite criticisms over the thousands of deaths and a preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the possibility of committing a crime against humanity.

Reckoning that the campaign against communists would last for at least four years, Duterte has made a counteroffer.

“If you’re a CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) or anybody here, you kill one NPA (New People’s Army member) and I will pay you P25,000. Kwenta-kwenta ko, mas makamura ako. Bilhin ko na lang itong mga yawa na ito (I calculated and realized it will save money. I might as well buy the devils),” he said.

He also stressed that he has nothing to fear as he has the Philippine Navy, Air Force, Army, and CAFGU.


In a recent speech to more than 200 rebels, Duterte also made a remark that soldiers can shoot female rebels “in their vaginas”. This comment did not sit well with women’s group Gabriela.

The president also reiterated his resolve to face the ICC and be put before a firing squad if he is found guilty of crimes against humanity to emulate Jose Rizal.

“Don’t worry about me, I can face the ICC. If they want to indict me, fine! I would love to experience what Rizal has experienced,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines denounced Duterte’s reward offer to Lumads for every killed communist rebel saying it promotes a culture of violence in the country.

Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabllo said that the statements promote a culture that normalizes violence and attacks the sanctity of life. He also urged the president to promote respect of the law instead of making such statements.

Sources: ( )


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How to spot fake news



How many times have you fallen for fake stories or seen friends and colleagues get victimized by misinformation? Two Senate hearings have been dedicated to discussing remedies to fight fake news in the country. But you don’t have to wait for any new laws to be created to contribute to the fight. You can do your part by identifying fake news and making sure that everyone who is willing to listen (or read) will know that a certain story is not factual at all.
Here are some eight pointers on how to distinguish fake news:

Does the headline sound too good to be true? Don’t take everything you read online to be true.

Netizens were duped by this obviously fake story with a headline “NASA hailed Duterte as the best president in the solar system.”

Check the URL. Some sites simply imitate the URLs of established news sources.

Some fake news and satirical sites are good at mimicking the URLs of reputable news sites simply by adding “,” “,” “tv-,” and others. Some also replace the letters in the URLs with numbers to trick people, such as or

Make sure the headline and/or image used matches the content.

Fake story makers take advantage of their readers’ tendencies to read only up to the headline or get their attention using some controversial photo that is actually not relevant to the content. The government-run news agency Philippine News Agency was slammed once for using a Vietnam war photo for a report about the Marawi siege.

Verify information by comparing information from competing sources.

Give yourself some peace of mind by ensuring that you check a story’s claims with different sources.

Check out fact-checking sites like and

Our website was founded amid the rise of memes that were deliberately made to spread disinformation during the 2016 elections,

with one of the more serious falsehoods being the meme that contained an invented quote from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong endorsing then Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. We also busted that story about the documents that spread online accusing former President Benigno Aquino III and other top government officials during his time of depositing gold in Thailand.

Vera Files is known more for fact-checking President Duterte’s claims when he makes speeches, such as his flip-flopping claims on his wealth, and the statements of other government officials.

Track down quotes and sources to see if everything in the story matches.

Many fake news writers have become quite good at masking the lies by mixing it with some facts. For instance, they would take a quote from a certain person and modify it. If you won’t check and triple check it, you’d really think that quote was accurate. A good example of that would be how a fake news site changed up current CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles’ statement, attributed it to former CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and made it seem as though Villegas was telling the government to leave the NPA alone.

Watch out for “filter bubbles” that show only items based on personalized searches and be more conscious in engaging in diverse content.

Website algorithm may guess what you would like to see based on your search history and online behavior, which may lead to you seeing only information that agree with your beliefs and opinions. To avoid this, you have to ensure that you have access to diverse news from well-established sources.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

This is where the need to verify things often start. A world of information is at your fingertip. Just type a few words in the search engine bar, apply the tips mentioned above, and you’ll be on your merry way to discovering whether the story you are reading is true or not.


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