FALSE: Leni Robredo spent over P200M for her LA trip
Claim: A reporter “exposed” Vice President Leni Robredo’s expenses in her Los Angeles trip, saying it amounted to over P287.7 million. The claim appeared in an article posted by newsmediaph.online on July 25, 2019.
Reporter Pol Pinoy estimated the cost of Robredo’s one trip to Los Angeles as a response to a Rappler article published in June 2017 about President Rodrigo Duterte’s P386.2 million worth of expenses spent on his foreign trips. The post claimed that Pinoy “resorted to true-to-life estimates” because the Office of the Vice President denied their requests for actual data despite the Freedom of Information Act.
Rappler spotted the article via Claim Check, Facebook’s tool that flags suspicious posts shared across the platform for fact checking. It also flagged the same content from another website pilipinews.xyz. The pilipinews.xyz link is now inaccessible.
Three other websites reposted the same article in July 2019. These are newsboxesph.blogspot.com, balitangupdates.blogspot.com, and pinastrends.xyz. The claims from these websites were shared in 42 Facebook groups and pages that had a combined follower count of 1.7 million. It generated over 791 engagements, according to CrowdTangle.
The facts: The source of the article that appeared in the mentioned websites is Adobo Chronicles, a satirical site.
The claim was rehashed and pertained to Robredo’s trip to Los Angeles for a fundraiser of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) in June 2017. Adobo Chronicles originally posted their article in June 2017.
While Adobo Chronicles has a disclaimer on its website saying that their content is fictitious and satirical, the other websites that carried their story word-for-word and reposted it two years later did not explain this and spread it as if it was new and real.
The Commission on Audit said in its annual audit report that traveling expenses of the Office of the Vice President for CY 2017 amounted to P27.4 million – P26.4 million for local and P953,550 for foreign trips. Rappler asked the OVP for the total number of foreign trips the Vice President took in 2017, but they failed to provide the information after several follow-ups.
COA also flagged the OVP for liquidation issues involving its local travels in 2017. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com
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