Fact Checks about media

FALSE: Media blackout on Aquino admin’s alleged gold shipment

FALSE: Media blackout on Aquino admin’s alleged gold shipment
Several news outlets reported on the gold shipment complaint, which the central bank later said was based on a fake document
At a glance:
  • Claim: The Philippine mainstream media did not report on former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s alleged illegal shipment of 3,500 metric tons of gold to Thailand.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Several news outlets reported on the complaint made against Aquino about an alleged illegal gold shipment in 2017. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also later said that the complaint was based on a fake document.
  • Why we fact-checked this: Claim Check, Facebook’s monitoring tool, flagged a video containing this claim. The video has over 2.1 million views as of writing.
Complete details:

Facebook page “PSSAP Underground Media” falsely claimed in a video post that the Philippine mainstream media did not report on the alleged illegal shipment of 3,500 metric tons of gold to Thailand by members of the Noynoy Aquino administration.

The video was titled, “Ang mga tunay na MAG-NA-NA-KAW (The real thieves).” The post was captioned, “Bakit news blackout sa issue na ito ang mga mainstream media? (Why is there a news blackout about this issue in the mainstream media?)”

This claim is false. This issue came out in several news reports in the Philippine media, including Rappler, Inquirer.net, ABS-CBN News, GMA News, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, and Manila Bulletin.

Even the video clips that were used in the false video came from actual news reports from UNTV News and PTV.

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Moreover, the claim that the Aquino administration stole gold and deposited it into the Bank of Thailand had been debunked before.

The controversy broke in January 2017 when a certain Rogelio Cantora filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a plunder complaint against Aquino and his former Cabinet members interior secretary Mar Roxas, justice secretary Leila de Lima, finance secretary Cesar Purisima; former Senate president Franklin Drilon; and former BSP chief Amando Tetangco Jr.

Cantora’s complaint was based on a supposed BSP Circular No. 49 released in 2014, which would allegedly implicate the officials in the illegal transfer.

But in an email to Rappler in 2017, BSP’s legal counsel Elmore O. Capule called the supposed circular “spurious,” because BSP Circular No. 49 was issued on September 20, 1994, and was about a totally different subject matter. He added that BSP circulars are issued by the Office of the Governor, yet the fake circular was signed by Cabinet secretaries and the Senate president.

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The video was posted on January 5, 2020, but it was still getting engagements as of Friday, February 12. Claim Check, Facebook’s monitoring tool that identifies potentially dubious posts on the platform, also flagged the video for fact checkers to verify. The video had over 2.1 million views, 57,300 shares, 40,100 reactions, and 5,500 comments as of writing.

This is not the first time Rappler debunked a post by “PSSAP Underground Media.” In December, we debunked a false claim from the page that said tilapia was introduced to the Philippines during Ferdinand Marcos’ presidency. The page also falsely said that a news report attributed a student leader’s death to Martial Law. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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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