Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: No senator identified as behind alleged leak of executive session information


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FACT CHECK: No senator identified as behind alleged leak of executive session information
There are no official reports disclosing the identity of the person behind the alleged information breach. The Senate ethics committee is set to investigate the incident.

Claim: A senator has been identified as the person behind the alleged leak of sensitive information from a recent Senate executive session discussing confidential funds.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim was posted on November 14, and has gained 153,114 views, 3,300 likes, and 482 comments as of writing.

The video’s title and thumbnail claims that a “traitor” in the Senate has been identified.

The bottom line: No official reports have disclosed the identity of the person behind the alleged leak. The narrator didn’t provide concrete evidence to support the claim. Instead, the video relied on comments from social media users speculating about the leaker’s identity.

The upload of the misleading video comes days after senators raised concerns over the alleged information leak of their discussion on the confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) during an executive session. 

The Senate ethics committee is set to probe the incident. In a statement, committee chair Senator Nancy Binay said the committee will “refrain from making further public statements on this matter” pending completion of the review to comply with Senate rules on confidentiality.

Executive sessions: Senators expressed dismay over the alleged breach, with Senator Pia Cayetano stressing the importance of executive sessions for the chamber to hear the views of individual senators and allow them to raise questions or concerns that they prefer not to express in public. 

Executive sessions are held upon a senator’s request, or when the security of the state or public interest requires it. According to Rule XLVII, Section 126 of the Rules of the Senate, these sessions are held behind closed doors, and only the Senate secretary, sergeant-at-arms, and other authorized persons may be allowed to attend them.

Senators said the information breach violates the Senate rules on confidentiality, as stated in Section 128: “The President as well as the Senators and the officials and employees of the Senate shall absolutely refrain from divulging any of the confidential matters taken up by the Senate, and all proceedings which might have taken place….”

Section 129 states that any senator who violates the provision may be expelled from the Senate by a two-thirds vote of all senators. If Senate officials or employees violate the rule, they shall be dismissed.

Confidential funds: The controversy stemmed from a news report naming senators supposedly in favor of reinstating the P650-million confidential funds of the OVP and DepEd, led by Vice President Sara Duterte.

The House of Representatives earlier junked the OVP and DepEd confidential funds for 2024 and realigned the funds to other government agencies amid public clamor. Duterte later dropped her confidential funds request. (READ: Duterte’s OVP spent P125-M confidential funds in 11 days – COA)

Rappler previously fact-checked a claim that Senator Robinhood Padilla was responsible for the leak and was expelled from the Senate. Andrei Santos/Rappler.com

Andrei Santos 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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