Cotabato governor warns vs misleading Facebook page, smells disinformation

Rommel Rebollido
Cotabato governor warns vs misleading Facebook page, smells disinformation

OFFICIAL. The official seal of the province of Cotabato in the Soccsksargen region used in its official Facebook page.

Janina Malinis / Rappler

Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza says the capitol has no association with the page and warns its creator against the unauthorized use of the official seal and name of the province

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza cautioned residents of the province on Wednesday, February 8, about a mysterious Facebook page that appeared to be affiliated with the provincial government.

The page, named “North Cotabato Province,” was spreading love-themed messages, drawing the attention and amusement of residents. However, it also carried public notices, leading officials to worry about the potential for disinformation.

Mendoza said the provincial government had no association with the page and warned its creator against the use of the official seal and name of the province without proper authorization.

“There is a corresponding punishment and fine for this,” she warned.

The page, however, carries the following disclaimer: “This page is not affiliated with the Provincial Government of Cotabato.” It claims to be a non-government organization. The seal on its page is also slightly different from what the Cotabato provincial government used in its official page.

Mendoza called on Cotabato-based netizens to exercise caution and to only share truthful and relevant information. She said the official Facebook page of the capitol is the Provincial Government of Cotabato.

Local officials said the page remains mysterious, with its creator’s identity and motives unknown. However, it has gained over 35,000 followers vis-à-vis the capitol’s official page’s 44,000 and has become a hub for lighthearted, love-themed posts.

Despite the governor’s clarification, the page has continued to be a hub for hilarious love-themed posts, with netizens jokingly and wrongly attributing it to the capitol’s attempt to keep the spirit of Valentine’s Day alive.

One viral post read, “Never give permanent feelings to a temporary person.” This elicited a comment from one Blessie Febrich who posted, “Broken hearts among probinsya oh (Our province is heartbroken).” 

Another post read, “Faking a smile is so much easier than explaining why you’re sad,” to which another quipped, “You already separated from South Cotabato, you need to move on.”

Many residents have alerted the capitol officials, but for now, the page continues to be a source of humor for many in the province.

“OK lang enjoy mga jokes, pero magbantay gid. Baka may ibang agenda yan kag gina good time lang kita. Damu scam subong (It’s fine to enjoy the jokes, but we need to be cautious. We don’t know the hidden agenda behind them, and the creator may be using it as a disguise to deceive us. There are so many scams already),” warned Jesus Maraisan, a heavy equipment operator and internet user from Kabacan town.

The province, located in the Soccsksargen region, was previously known as North Cotabato but dropped the word “North” from its name. The change has led to confusion given that there is a Mindanao city already named Cotabato, which serves as the regional center of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The capitol said that as the provincial government strives to maintain accuracy and accountability in the dissemination of information, Mendoza’s warning should serve as a reminder of the importance of verifying the sources of information. –

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