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Columnist falls for fake news over US ambassador Haley allegedly asking space for Duterte to run PH

Manila Times columnist Yen Makabenta wrote an article about how US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley remarked that President Rodrigo Duterte needs space to run the Philippines. However, as in our earlier bust, this is a statement attributed to Haley by a fake news site that is trying to imitate Al Jazeera.
We busted an article from fake news site with the headline, “U.S. ambassador Nikki: “We must give President Duterte the space to run is nation.” Note how it misspelled “his” to “is,” a clue that could have easily told anyone that this site is not all that reliable and should not be taken seriously. You can read our bust here: “Busted: “US ambassador Nikki” said Duterte must have space to run his nation? It’s fake news!

However, ABS-CBN news editor Jojo Pasion Malig noticed how Manila Times columnist Makabenta wrote a column based on the fake news about Haley’s alleged remarks on Duterte.

In the early morning of September 23, Malig wrote: “Dear Manila Times, I think one of your columnists fell for a fake news site.”

He also provided the links to Makabenta’s piece and the fake news site. He pointed out that the is not the Al Jazeera website. Malig also tagged Al Jazeera reporter Jamela Aisha Alindogan, among others.

Malig’s post got Alindogan’s attention, who in turn, posted on Facebook to clarify that Al Jazeera’s official website is while reminding everybody to be extra careful because “trolls are working overtime.”
“Just to clarify… to those who keep falling for fake news- this is a fake aljazeera website. The correct one is I ask you please to be careful when sharing stuff online. Trolls are working overtime. Their intention is to discredit journalists and to fool the public,” Alindogan wrote.

Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal, in his comment on Alindogan’s post, pointed out the grammatical errors in the fake news site’s article.

To this, Alindogan responded: “Somebody fell for it and wrote a piece,” referring to Makabenta’s column.

Makabenta’s September 23 piece was titled, “Superstar speaks: Give Duterte space to run the Philippines.”

In this piece, he noted how he now understands why an American columnist described Haley as a “superstar in the cabinet of Donald Trump.”

He then wrote about how Haley “placed her voice squarely on the side of President Duterte and the Philippines.”

Makabenta also quoted what he said were Haley’s statements at the UN General Assembly:

“The Philippines is suffocating. We must give President Duterte the space to run his nation. We must respect their independence … It is not in our purview to decide administrative issues for the Philippines…

“That is the job of the president.”

These are the same words that were quoted by in its September 18 story, a story that we busted.

The columnist further claimed that in her UNGA speech, Haley said: “Destructive forces have never given the Duterte administration enough space to jump-start his programs of government; they did not even afford him the proverbial honeymoon period…. Now, they have calibrated their plot to ouster movements and this is just the second year of his presidency.”

However, we could not find other sources carrying this statement about this alleged statement from Haley, aside from the quote on Makabenta’s column and the other blogs and Facebook pages that picked it up.

Makabenta’s September 23 piece was then shared by some netizens, including former DILG chief Rafael Alunan III, who shared the entire piece on his Facebook page.

It was in the comments section where other netizens tried to tell Alunan that Makabenta based his piece on fake news, but Alunan said that he would wait for Makabenta’s reply to his query as to the veracity of his piece on Haley.


Alunan added that if Makabenta indeed used fake news as basis for writing his piece, the columnist should issue an apology.

Award-winning writer Miguel Syjuco also got in on the quest to find out whether Haley did say what the fake news site quoted her to have said.

He even shared our previous bust while trying to find out more about this “disinformation.”

Syjuco also said that he already wrote Ambassador Haley to know more about her alleged statement on Duterte.

“I’ve written Ambassador Nikki Haley, to confirm whether she did praise Duterte’s methods, as quoted by a fake site,, then by Manila Times columnist Yen Makabenta, and now by many vocal Duterte supporters,” he wrote.

He also encouraged other people to write to the US State Department and even included a message that everyone could use to reach out to Haley’s office.

“Dear Ambassador Haley,

I’d like to confirm if the words of praise for President Duterte, that were alleged to have come from you, are in fact yours.

I’m a concerned Filipino.

Recently, an article in the Manila Times quoted a fake news site,, citing words of praise for Duterte and his drug war that are alleged to have come from you. This is being widely used now in the Philippines to indicate the US stance on Duterte’s policies.

Could you please confirm whether you said these words:…/…/

And just like what we did with our bust, Syjuco pointed out how Haley, during the confirmation hearing, responded in the affirmative when asked by US Senator Ben Cardin whether she thinks Duterte’s “sanctioned extrajudicial killings” violate human rights.

Even known Duterte supporters Rey Joseph Nieto, a.k.a Thinking Pinoy, and Sass Rogando Sasot also said Haley’s statement on Duterte was fake.

Thinking Pinoy wrote, “The supposed quote from US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley cited in a column at The Manila Times, is fake. Haley, asked about alleged EJKs under the Rody Duterte Administration in a recent interview, said the practice violated basic human rights.”

“Thus, I find it extremely unlikely for Haley to say something rosy about the Philippine War on Drugs,” he added.

Sasot also brought up the fact that Haley’s statement was obtained from the fake Al Jazeera site.

“The latest column of Yen Makabenta in The Manila Times is unfortunately based on a fake Al Jazeera news website. I have already taken down my reposting of it and informed our editor in The Manila Times about it,” she wrote.

Makabenta was also busted by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV before for writing another column about the senator while citing fake news. The columnist fell for the fake story about Zambales fishermen walking out when Trillanes was about to speak, a story that we busted.


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