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Senate gave CHR P693.5-M for proposed 2018 budget



The Senate proposed a higher 2018 budget for the Commission on Human Rights, P156.4 million more than the budget allocated for the agency by the House of Representatives.

The Senate submitted a CHR budget for 2018 amounting to P693.5 million, which is higher than the House’s proposal of P537.7 million. The CHR submitted a proposal amounting to P651.9 million.

During the deliberations in the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson defended the proposed budget as its sponsor. He was interpellated by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III as he questioned what the CHR did for the victims of the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

“Based on the 2016 budget of the CHR, and based on COA’s recommendation, CHR Regional Office IX in Zamboanga failed to pay on time the financial and community assistance to the victims of human rights violations. This is in contrast to the CHR mandate. May we know the reason for the delay?” Sotto asked.

Lacson said that CHR has already released P5.38 million, as of June 30, 2017, benefiting 1,729 victims.

“So can we safely say that this has not happened in the rest of the country?” Sotto asked again.

Senator Lacson said CHR has pushed for expediting the release of the assistance in Zamboanga and the rest of the country, with the goal of zero backlog in mind by the end of 2017.

Asked about the agency’s 328 vacant positions, Lacson said that the CHR is still hiring personnel to fill 200 items.


As for the unspent P21 million, Lacson said that during the 2017 deliberations for the budget for CHR, he moved to add P100 to the agency’s budget for a CHR building, which could be the reason for the unobligated allotment.

Sotto said that while he still has questions over the figures involving the killings in the country, he would ask them in other Senate hearings. He then moved to have the CHR budget be subject for plenary approval.

“In deference to the chair, the chair and I have something in common, and to the sister of the presiding officer, I terminate my interpellation of the budget of the Commission on Human Rights. I move to submit,” Sotto said.

He was referring to CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, sister of Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

No objection was heard from other Senators.

A bicameral committee would be up next in the deliberation for the 2018 budget after the Senate approves of its own version.

In September, the House even voted for a P1,000 budget for CHR in September, with 119 lawmakers voting for it, while 32 others were against it.

P1,000 budget issues

Among the reactions that went viral during the P1,000 CHR budget issue was that of comedienne Beverly Salviejo, who called the CHR biased and silent during the killings of the farmers protesting in Mendiola during the Cory Aquino administration, the killings of the farmers in Hacienda Luisita, the violent dispersal of the protesting farmers in Kidapawan during Noynoy Aquino’s administration, in contrast to how much they are protesting now over the killings of “criminals” under the Duterte administration.

To this, a GMA News and Public Affairs writer and supervising producer posted a fact-check of all of Salviejo’s criticisms of the CHR.

Jayson Bernard Santos’ fact-checking also went viral with almost 3,500 in shares.

There were also issues surrounding the way the lawmakers voted for or against the P1,000 budget for CHR.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said he was “disappointed” for not being around to vote against the budget slash and apologized to the Filipinos.

Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, through her son Luis Manzano’s Twitter page, said that she was against the budget cut because there is “so much crime/EJK.” However, she was absent during the debates because she was sick.

Iloilo 1st District Rep. Richard Garin said he voted yes due to his dissatisfaction with CHR Chairman Chito Gascon’s performance, although he believed the budget would be “reconsidered and restored” for the salaries of the agency’s employees.

BUHAY Rep. Lito Atienza said that the country’s problem right now include human rights violations, so the CHR deserves more than P600 million, citing P2 billion as a proper budget for the agency to function.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said he was not around during the plenary debates, but was then confident the budget would be restored, calling the CHR one of the “vital institutions.”

Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin said he also skipped the deliberation, but said that he recognized the CHR’s constitutional mandate in protecting human rights.

Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman clarified the issue after speculations as to how she voted on the CHR budget cut, saying that she was absent during the deliberations, but had she been present, she would have “upheld the importance of such a crucial government agency like the CHR.”

Other lawmakers also explained their side on the voting.

After voting for a P1,000 budget for CHR on September 12, the House panel restored the agency’s and that of the Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Commission on Indigenous People on September 20.

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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