FACT CHECK: Sotto didn’t say ethics complaint vs Trillanes Senate ‘top priority’

Camille Elemia
FACT CHECK: Sotto didn’t say ethics complaint vs Trillanes Senate ‘top priority’
Senate President Vicente Sotto III himself, former ethics panel chairman, denies the claim

Claim: The blog Trending PH, trendingph.altervista.org, posted on May 25 that Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would prioritize the ethics complaint against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV under his leadership.

The site published the post and the video with the title “MUST WATCH!! ETHICS COMPLAINT KAY TRILLANES GINAWANG *TOP PRIORITY* NI SOTTO SA SENADO!”

The post leads to a YouTube video of Sotto speaking during his May 24 press conference. It was uploaded by an account with the username “Pro Duterte Ka Ba?”

The post was shared by a certain Alexis Medina Trillado to at least two public pro-Duterte groups on Facebook, namely Inday Sara Duterte Supporters Worldwide and Solid Duterte Supporters/DDS. The groups have 2,839 members and 2,523 members, respectively.

Rating: FALSE

The Facts: Sotto never said that he will make the ethics complaint filed against Trillanes the chamber’s top priority. Trillanes is one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fiercest critics.

During the press conference, Sotto, former ethics committee chair, discussed the two remaining complaints pending before the panel: the complaint filed by Senator Richard Gordon against Trillanes and the remaining complaint against detained Senator Leila de Lima.

“’Yung complaint ni Senator Gordon kay Senator Trillanes, ‘yun na lang natitira doon. The rest we were able to decide…’yung dati and then also there’s another one, the complaint against Senator De Lima. Parang dalawa na lang naiwan na ‘di pa nareresolve,” Sotto said on May 24.

(The complaint of Senator Gordon against Senator Trillanes is the only one remaining. We’ve decided on the rest. And then there’s another one, the complaint against Senator De Lima. I think those two are the only ones not yet resolved.)

In separate text messages to Rappler on Friday, June 1, Sotto said senators have to elect a new chairman of the ethics committee.

He also denied the site’s claim. “Wala [akong sinasabi] kasi hindi na ako chair. (I [didn’t say that] because I’m not the chair).”

Trending PH has previously published misleading, if not false, news articles. For instance, a post published on June 1 said Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Francis Pangilinan on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, when in reality, Lacson interpellated Pangilinan on the proposed Senate resolution against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s ouster.

Other posts also falsely claimed that Pangilinan and Drilon “trembled” during Lacson’s questioning.

The site also alleged that opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros planned to leave the minority bloc, which was why she was now supporting the BBL.

The site also does not have a profile, masthead, and bylines for its articles. Its posts only have an alarming title with a video that usually does not match the former.

Rappler has observed a pattern in recent weeks where several sites also known for publishing misleading or false claims also employed the same tactic: a post with an alarming headline is attached with a video that does not support the claim. – Rappler.com

If you suspect a Facebook page, group, account, a website, or an article is spreading false information, let Rappler know by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com