Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: Martin Romualdez not affiliated with CPP-NPA

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FACT CHECK: Martin Romualdez not affiliated with CPP-NPA
An SMNI host claims Romualdez is affiliated with the communist rebel group, but provides no proof to support this claim

Claim: House Speaker Martin Romualdez is a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA), and political wing National Democratic Front (NDF).

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook video bearing the claim was posted on January 9 and has 2,500 views, 251 likes, and 95 shares as of writing. 

The video shows Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, an SMNI host who was previously cited in contempt by a House panel for refusing to name his source in relation to an unverified report on Romualdez’s travel spending.

The video shows Celiz referencing the suspension orders issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) against SMNI. 

Celiz called out President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for keeping silent about the issue, questioning whether the President is supporting the supposed interference and abuse of power by his cousin – referring to Romualdez – whom Celiz claims is connected with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

The bottom line: There is no proof of Romualdez’s alleged affiliation with the CPP-NPA-NDF. Romualdez is currently president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (LAKAS-CMD) political party, which also has no confirmed ties with the rebel group. The party’s previous chairperson was Vice President Sara Duterte, who has consistently been vocal in her criticism of communist rebels.  

Support for peace talks: The video implying Romualdez’s association with the CPP-NPA surfaced after the House Speaker expressed support for Marcos’ move to resume peace talks with the communist group.

“This negotiation is more than just a political maneuver; it is a moral imperative, a chance to mend the fissures that have long divided our nation,” Romualdez said on December 4.

Romualdez, however, has not shied away from condemning the group for its actions, urging the rebels to “abandon the path of violence.”

SMNI under fire: SMNI, a platform notorious for peddling disinformation and red-tagging government critics, has been in hot water recently following attacks on lawmakers made by its program hosts. 

In December, the MTRCB suspended two SMNI shows while the NTC later suspended the entire network’s operations. A House bill has also been filed calling for the revocation of SMNI’s franchise.

Celiz slammed the suspension orders, saying this aimed to remove “the number one media outlet that reports the truth.” (READ: SMNI’s suspension splits opinion on free speech)

Rappler has already published several fact-checks about SMNI and its hosts:

– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com

Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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