Senator Leila De Lima was arrested on February 24, but an online report started circulating on July 10 claiming that she was released from prison and placed under house arrest. However, the source of the news, houstonchronicle-tv.com, is suspicious for posting several fake articles.
According to Facebook search results, the article has been shared over 2,000 times since it surfaced on Monday.
Some netizens took the news to be true and shared it to Facebook groups.
According to houstonchronicle-tv.com, De Lima’s release after months of incarceration gave hope to more amnesty grants for other imprisoned activists. The Supreme Court allegedly released the senator for “humanitarian reasons,” “health reasons,” and “serious signs of irregularities” in the way her case was handled.
The website wrote that De Lima came out of her Parañaque house climbing on top of a wall, wearing a white shirt, clutching and kissing a “Philippian flag,” with her right fist raised to show defiance. They could not even spell “Philippine flag” right.
De Lima was quoted saying the following:
“This is a step in the march toward freedom and transparency.”
“I carry no resentment, nor will I give up my beliefs. My position against this regime is firm as are my convictions to fight for a real peace, mass massacre, coexistence, change and freedom.”
The said statement was said to have been read by De Lima’s close friend and priest, Father Robert Reyes.
While it is true that De Lima and Reyes are close allies, we could not find any report carrying such a statement from De Lima, as read by Reyes. But when we Googled the second sentence in the statement above, we found that the statement was indeed uttered by someone who was recently released from prison to be placed under house arrest, but it was not De Lima. It was Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
What’s more is that we found that houstonchronicle-tv.com simply copied the article covering the Venezuelan opposition leader’s house arrest on July 8, as published by the Los Angeles Times. The fake news site simply tweaked a few details of the LA Times article to suit De Lima’s situation and come up with a fake article.
You can compare the content of the two articles and find major similarities:
It’s just that houstonchronicle-tv.com changed the last four paragraphs to replace the last few paragraphs in the LA Times article with some more background of De Lima’s case. Names were also replaced to make the fake article about De Lima’s alleged house arrest look more genuine.
De Lima’s official Facebook page has branded the houstonchronicle-tv.com article as fake and urged netizens to report the website.
“FAKE NEWS ALERT! This is to belie news reports circulating in the online media that Sen. Leila M. de Lima has been released from her detention and placed under house arrest. Obviously, there is no truth to this news report but is only a handiwork of fake news machinery. Kindly do not share or like it,” it said.
Upon scanning the other articles on houstonchronicle-tv.com, we found a lot of fake articles posted on the site, mixed with real news. Meme Buster debunked some of their fake stories, such as those about Cebu priest impregnating two girls, multi-million jewelry recovered in De Lima’s boyfriend’s house, US President Trump offering special treatment to Filipinos, Trump telling Duterte US is behind him vs. human rights groups, and more.
Houstonchronicle-tv.com also loves publishing death hoaxes. It has already created hoaxes about the death of De Lima, Jinkee Pacquiao, Archbiship Luis Antonio Tagle, actress Marian Rivera, Former Vice President Jejomar Binay, actress Jessy Mendiola, First Daughter Inday Sara Duterte, and more.