“Boy Dacalos is still a drug lord,” wrote a Facebook user who went by the name Brutos Salgo on January 7, 2019.
Salgo had first appeared on the comment sections of the Facebook Group “Political Stories from San Fernando” three days into the new year. He began accusing local politicians of drug dealing and corruption, naming six in quick succession – four running for municipal councilor, the incumbent mayor, and her husband, the vice mayoral candidate.
“I thought Kwati had been killed already,” Salgo wrote in a comment posted on January 10. “Maybe he’s next. Hehehehe… if not him it’s Edwin if not Johnny if not Boy D. Let’s all wait for it…”
“These four are running for municipal councilor in the municipality of San Fernando, Jesus Christ,” he posted a few minutes later. “They led the people on. How stupid do they think the people of San Fernando are? The arrogance of [those four]. Better that you all get out while there’s still time. You morons!”
Within two hours after Salgo’s comment was published, unidentified gunmen pumped bullets into Reneboy “Boy” Dacalos – Boy D – an incumbent municipal councilor of the second-class municipality of San Fernando in the province of Cebu.
“Bwahahaha,” wrote Brutos Salgo.
‘He’s the leader of the hitmen’
The Facebook group “Political Stories from San Fernando” (Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando) required membership to post and comment. It was, however, a public page, created in late 2012 by an anonymous account named Voxpopuli Voxlege, which described it as “a forum for discussion of San Fernando political issues.”
Much of the commentary was written in casual Cebuano, with references to pop culture and local slang. The group’s members included local government staff, beat reporters, municipal councilors, dentists, teachers, housewives, students, and an assortment of individuals who claimed to be based in San Fernando, a second-class municipality south of Cebu City with a population of 63,000. In April, the group had a little above 6,000 members, averaging about 10 unique posts a day.
While certain posts were public service announcements or shared press reports, the page also became a venue for the naming and shaming of certain San Fernando residents. Those targeted were accused of crimes that ranged from adultery to dancing during office hours to the wearing of unfashionable footwear.
Profile photo: Back of a dog’s head
Debut on Political Stories : 3 Jan 2019
Exit from Political Stories: 22 Jan 2019
Total posts: None
Total comments: At least 32
Claim:”There’s still a main event”
As far as the members were concerned, the account calling itself Brutos Salgo was either a psychic or “the leader of the hitmen” or both, a savant with an uncanny ability to predict who would die and when.
Within hours after Reneboy Dacalos was murdered by a pair of unidentified gunmen, Salgo was back on Facebook.
“Kwati, Edwin and Johnny have gone into hiding!” Salgo announced.
“Kwati” referred to Councilor Alfonso Donaire IV, “Edwin” to Councilor Edwin Villaver, and “Johnny” to Village chairman Johnny Arriesgado.
‘There’s still a main event’
A group member later warned Salgo about his posts. “Be careful, they might go after you next.”
“If they shoot me, they’ll go after the Dishonorable Kwati Donaire first,” answered Salgo. “Hehhehasha…. And there’s still Edwin… and Johnny! That’s how we do it!!! Hehehehe.”
At 7 in the evening of January 16, six days after the Dacalos murder, reelectionist former municipal councilor Johnny Arriesgado was shot as he was driving past a cement plant in the village of South Poblacion.
Bullet holes studded Arriesgado’s windshield. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Arriesgado had denied allegations of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“There’s still a main event,” posted Salgo early the next morning. “These are just the supporting cast. Let’s wait for next week!”
Salgo would post eight more comments in the next six days. He said the murdered Johnny Arriesgado was a low-level target, a runner whose job was “to wash the asses of the drug lords.” He bet that Kwati Donaire would remain in hiding until the elections, “probably under his Mama’s bed.” He said the main event “would be a surprise” that would make “everybody happy.”
He then called out “that boss of yours, Nonoy,” and said it was best he left town.
Village Captain Ricardo “Nonoy” Reluya Jr was the husband of incumbent San Fernando Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya. He was also an ex-officio municipal councilor as head of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC), running for the vice-mayoral position in tandem with his wife.
“He’s a narco politician,” said Salgo. “He’s the main event.”
“Better for your boss Nonoy to go home to Dipolog. He’s a Narco politician. That’s
the main event. The others who were killed were just the supporting cast!…”
On January 22, at five in the afternoon, a sedan swung beside a white Grandia van carrying the Reluya couple and several municipal workers down the Nicanor Bacalso Road in Talisay City. Three men in “full battle gear” leapt out of the sedan and began shooting.
In the aftermath, police found 73 spent bullet casings at the crime scene. Ambulances rushed survivors to the hospital. News reports were vague, one agency reporting that the mayor was dead.
At 11:46 in the evening, Brutos Salgo made his final appearance on the Facebook group.
“Neneth is alive,” he wrote. “Nonoy is dead. That’s still okay.”
‘So this is what they meant’
Brutos Salgo posted 32 comments in the 20 days he spent actively naming targets for assassination. Within that period, three of the six people he warned were killed at six-day intervals. The fourth on the list, Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya, went on leave to recover from gunshot wounds. Her driver and a municipal employee riding with the couple were killed in the ambush.
Before Nonoy Reluya was murdered, he told media he feared for his life and that of his wife. He described a kill list he claimed had been circulating on Facebook.
Nonoy Reluya showed a Sunstar Cebu reporter screenshots of a comment thread allegedly posted on the “Political Stories” Facebook group. Their contents were similar to Brutos Salgo’s – threats of murder against the same six people accused of being “narco politicians.” The author, however, appeared to be a user named Ruben O Feliciano, who used the profile photo of Neneth Reluya’s rival, mayoral candidate and businessman Ruben Feliciano.
Feliciano had filed graft charges against the Reluyas at the Office of the Ombudsman, and claimed the mayor’s administration had been protecting illegal drug groups. The Reluyas continued to deny all charges of corruption and involvement in the illegal drug trade. None of them were included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco list.”
Mayor Reluya told Rappler she knew about the “Political Stories” Facebook group.
“He said something like, you drug protector, I will kill you, I will kill you, withdraw or die. Something like that.” She said she had seen the comments two weeks before her van had been riddled with bullets. “When we were ambushed, I said, ‘So this is what they meant.’”
Rappler secured copies of the comment thread Nonoy Reluya had described before his death. City Administrator Ricci Regens Reluya, the Reluyas’ son, confirmed they were the same comments his father referred to when speaking of a kill list to local media.
“It wasn’t the only one,” Ricci told Rappler. “Every other day [Feliciano] had a tirade, and continued threats to various pleople. It just so happened the people he was threatening was killed. It’s almost coincidence. I’m not saying he did it, I’m just waiting for the findings.”
Ricci sent Rappler copies of more comments written by the Ruben O Feliciano account and posted on the “Political Stories” Facebook group. Several of the messages appeared to be addressed to Ricci himself: “Please advice your parents, withdraw their candidacy or die! Because they are narco politicians!”
Feliciano denied ordering the ambush. In a February interview with Rappler in Cebu, the Zamboanga native disowned the comments on Facebook. He said his account had been hacked – “You know how popular hi-tech is today.”
Rappler was unable to independently verify whether the comments purported to be Feliciano’s were authentic. There are no available public posts under the name Ruben O Feliciano, although an existing account, with no posts or details, still retains the same photo used in the threatening comments.
Ricci told Rappler that the account was deleted in the aftermath of the murders in San Fernando. According to Facebook, deleting an account also means the automatic deletion of posts, photos, videos, and all associated comments published on the social media platform.
Feliciano did make one admission. He told Rappler that while he had never posted death threats and kill lists online, he had publicly and personally called the same people on the kill list “narco politicians.” He said that he had threatened them with death in his campaign speeches.
It was his way, he said, of offering his support to President Duterte’s war on drugs.
“I said, ‘I will kill you,’” Feliciano told Rappler.
Brutos Salgo, who had predicted the murders of Dacalos, Arriesgado and Nonoy Reluya, disappeared from “Political Stories” after he confirmed Nonoy Reluya was dead.
Two days later, another account surfaced, with the name Paula Marie Mijares.
PAULA MARIE MIJARES
Profile photo: Taken from target’s page
Debut on Political Stories: 24 Jan 2019
Exit from Political Stories: 23 Apr 2019
Total posts: At least 29
Total comments: At least 250
Claim: ”I will kill them.”
Unlike Salgo, Mijares had made an effort to build a public persona. Her timeline had three public profile photos, downloaded from the legitimate profile page of another San Fernando resident, one Mijares had included in her list of targets.
Her personal bio listed several affiliations. It said she worked for a call center based in Nicaragua, that she lived in Manila, and was affiliated with the Velez College of Physical Therapy in Cebu. The college is yet to respond to Rappler’s queries.
Mijares called herself a “100% supporter” of the Reluyas’ political rivals: Feliciano and former San Fernando mayor Abe Canoy. She spoke in English, some Filipino, occasionally Cebuano.
On January 24, Mijares began posting comments on threads discussing the Reluya couple’s ambush.
“Serves you right,” Mijares said.
The account mocked mourners offering their condolences, posting laughing memes and claiming Nonoy “is in hell killing time with Satan.”
Mijares alleged the Reluyas had been elected with drug money. She said they were murderers, smugglers, thieves, and cowards. She posted comment after comment, up to 250 in a span of three months, at one point posting nine in succession. A single post, for example, had 39 comments from Mijares alone. “Watch and learn,” she said often. “We will make San Fernando great again.”
Mijares said she had no interest in political gossip. She claimed her expertise was the war on drugs. Her targets were people “from San Fernando who are politicians engaged in the drug trade.”
She added, “I will really kill them.”
Facebook community standards do not permit the promotion or publication of crimes on its pages. Those include posts or comments where users depict criminal activity or admit to crimes they have committed.
On February 9, at 2:54 pm, Paula Marie Mijares took credit in the Facebook group for the murder of Nonoy Reluya, and assured readers there had been due process before his death.
“We conducted a series of investigations before we killed.”
“…mine is different. My info is about tokhang targets, the ones from San Fernando
who are politicians engaged in the drug trade. I will really kill them.”
‘The clock is ticking!’
Two weeks after the murder of Nonoy Reluya, Paula Marie Mijares posted a public message to the members of the “Political Stories” Facebook group.
Where, asked Mijares, was Kwati Donaire hiding?
“Kwati” Donaire IV, a reelectionist municipal councilor, was the man Brutos Salgo had earlier called “the highest” of the four municipal councilors he named as drug dealers. Donaire had been arrested by police, who told media they had found a .45 caliber pistol and suspected meth inside his home. Donaire denied drug allegations.
Mijares said Donaire was scheduled to die, and die soon.
“I’m not joking,” Mijares posted. “To the people whose names are on my post, I’m warning them to leave San Fernando immediately, because I don’t want them to die in San Fernando. I want them to die some other place. It’ll take one bullet, for sure! You’re into drugs, so you’re really dead!”
Mijares continued threatening Donaire in the succeeding days, alternately cheered and condemned by the group’s members.
“They’ll die,” she said on February 9, “whether or not they come out from hiding.”
“Better pray for their souls in advance,” she added. “Withdraw or die. Evaporate or die!”
“The clock is ticking!” she said on February 10. “They will die and so be it.”
“We’re about to find Kwati Donaire, dead or alive. #beready,” Mijares announced on February 15.
“RIP Soon to them,” Mijares said on February 16.
The account asked a single ominous question on February 20. “Do you believe in karma?”
On February 23, 2019, at 28 minutes past nine in the morning, the 6,000 members of “Political Stories from San Fernando” were informed of Donaire’s murder a full hour before the first reporter broke the story.
“How true Kwati Donaire was killed earlier this morning in Zamboanga, Ramon Magsaysay!” posted Mijares.
Kwati Donaire, the fourth incumbent San Fernando politician to die in 2019, was killed just after dawn by two as yet unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen. One of them was wearing a mask.
Mijares had assured readers that targets could be killed even if they hid “as far as Mindanao.” She proved correct. Donaire had flown more than 300 kilometers away to the fourth-class municipality of Ramon Magsaysay in Zamboanga del Sur. He was killed there.
A DYHP radio reporter broke the story 58 minutes after Mijares. The reporter cited “confidential sources.”
By then, Mijares had already shared details of Donaire’s murder with the Facebook group, including an uncensored photo of the crime scene showing the dead municipal councilor lying on his back, blood on his white shirt.
It was captioned “Confirmed Dead! RIP KWATI DONAIRE.”
Facebook has come under considerable fire for permitting the proliferation of violent content on its own platform. In Myanmar, for example, the social media giant admitted failure in stopping the spread of hate speech. The commissioned human rights report said the company had “become a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm, and posts have been linked to offline violence.”
The social media platform became more agressive in policing its pages in the face of international condemnation and a spate of investigations. On May 2, days before this article was published, Facebook announced it was permanently banning from its platforms several far-right and anti-Semitic personalities it called “dangerous.”
Facebook community standards has an entire section on violence and criminal behavior, including threats of credible violence. The policies apply to all violating content on the platform, including those in its closed groups, whether they are in the form of posts, comments, videos, and images. While the company conceded the difficulty of policing content so open to interpretation, Facebook defined credible threats as content posing “a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.”
On February 23, just after the murder of Kwati Donaire, Paula Marie Mijares published a post on “Political Stories.”
“Next in line watch out!” she announced. “One by One! Coming soon!”
The post was followed by a series of laughing emoticons.
RACHEL POLLO / LAKAMBINI MANUGAS
Profile photo: Unknown females
Debut on Political Stories: 11 Dec 2015
Exit from Political Stories: 11 Apr 2019
Total posts: At least 161
Total comments: At least 384
Claim: ”Rachel Pollo does not lie.”
‘A million giggles!’
Brutos Salgo and Paula Marie Mijares were not the only online vigilantes to blister the already reactionary pages of the “Political Stories” Facebook group with death threats and kill lists. A handful of members seemed to have no qualms tagging a variety of San Fernando residents with links to the illegal drug trade, in spite of the rising toll of drug suspects killed by police and armed assassins.
“If it were up to me,” said one user, “20% of San Fernando will die because they’re addicts.”
While the more outrageous behavior in the group came from accounts of newer members like Mijares, one of the most ubiquitous had been part of the group since December 2015. She called herself Rachel Pollo, and was among the group’s most prolific members. “We are here to defend the innocents,” the Pollo account wrote in its early days.
Rachel Pollo’s first post in mid-December 2015 became the template for dozens more that would appear at weekly, sometimes hourly, intervals. Her diatribes ran from single sentences to five-hundred-word screeds, targeting locals whom she accused of a variety of offenses. In the beginning, her posts were largely limited to the unattractiveness of certain housewives, the arrogance of municipal employees, and taunting slurs against the supposed poverty of other members – “You were a maid in Abu Dhabi!”
The account claimed access to inside information, often inside the municipal hall. Pollo often referred to herself in the third person. “People were in shock,” Pollo wrote, “because everyone knows Rachel Pollo’s posts are always true. ” The posts were usually written in capitals letters, punctuated with emoticons and her favorite phrase – “a million giggles!”
The 161 unique posts Pollo wrote and which Rappler reviewed suggested a swaggering persona – “Thousands read my posts!”– with an almost juvenile sensitivity to criticism. “Leave me alone!” she would lash out when challenged. Pollo’s critics inside the group, and there had been many, were alternately called whores, animals, idiots, and cowards.
“HELLO PHILIPPINES! HELLO SAN FERNANDO!
Doesn’t matter how busy people are, they really do wait for Rachel Pollo’s posts.
They’ll buy cellphone load just to read what I’ve been posting!
Thank you for all your support, even if the others nearly got heart attacks or mild strokes from anger!
This Rachel Pollo, when she tells the truth, she tells it without let-up!
THAT’S MY FORTE!
We’ll begin with the bastards who think they own the municipal hall!”
In 2016, as President Duterte’s drug war was ramping up, the Pollo account began railing against the sitting San Fernando administration for its alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Pollo accused the Reluya party of taking money in installments from alleged local drug kingpin Franz Sabalones. “Neneth Reluya is one of the narco politics!!” she said one day. “Nonoy Reluya is the ‘King of Addicts,’” she said on another.
“I used to think that these are just bitter people, or people angry that they were let go [from municipal jobs],” said city administrator Ricci Reluya, who was a member of the group. “Jealousy, you know? But after the murders, I thought maybe they had some idea what they were doing.”
Rachel Pollo had also been leveling accusations of drug involvement against two of the murdered municipal councilors, Dacalos and Donaire.
“My advice to Kwati Donaire is for him to accept that whatever he does, the evidence is too strong,” Pollo wrote months before Donaire’s death.
She went as far as attacking Donaire’s daughter, whom she called “a child fed by drugs.”
“ANSWER ME!” Pollo wrote. “Didn’t you get your car from Sabalones money?”
‘Who is Rachel Pollo?’
In the three years of its public existence, the Rachel Pollo account acquired 741 friends, using as profile images the smiling photos of several young women Rappler has been unable to identify.
Like Paula Marie Mijares, Rachel Pollo repeatedly declared her support for the Feliciano-Canoy ticket, picking fights in the comments section against Reluya supporters.
SHIELBERT ALERTA ENCABO
Profile photo: Male
Debut on Political Stories: 19 Sep 2016
Exit from Political Stories: 24 Apr 2019
Total posts: At least 39
Total comments: At least 551
Claim: ”Never underestimate me.”
Ten months after Pollo’s first appearance in “Political Stories,” rumors of her actual identity began surfacing. Group members, some of whom had complained about being blocked by Pollo, began referring to the purported account owner by name.
“Eat shit, Mec,” wrote one user. “I’ll describe Rachel Pollo,” said another. “Big forehead, small eyes, curly hair, no ass and lives behind the church. Go rip his hair out.”
It was Pollo herself who gave “Mec” a name.
WHAT IS IT WITH MICMIC ENCABO THAT YOU’D BOTHER HIM?
NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU’D RUIN HIS PERSONALITY, HE WON’T DIE AND JUST BECAUSE I’M RACHEL POLLO YOU’D NAME MICMIC?
Micmic Encabo – alternately referred to as Mec, Mic, Mek, Mik, Mecmec, Mekmek and Mikmik by various members of the “Political Stories” group – had been posting under his official account, Shielbert Alerta Encabo.
Encabo described himself on his personal profile page as a “fearless writer.” He claimed to be a supporter of the Canoy-Feliciano party. He was a constant in the “Political Stories” comment sections, offering unsolicited opinions on the state of San Fernando’s water distribution, disaster preparedness, and the marital situations of certain group members.
His professional history remains unclear. The link to the “Teleperformance IT Park,” where Encabo claimed to work as a customer service representative, led to the page of a KFC franchise in Cebu City.
“Alorica Philippines, Inc,” where he claimed he was an inbound call center agent, has yet to respond to Rappler’s queries. “Wedding Bells” in La Carlota City, Cebu, where Encabo said he worked as a wedding planner, told Rappler they employed no one with Encabo’s name.
On her profile page, Rachel Pollo said she was a sales engineer at the Mandaue-based 7Core Communications. A company spokesperson told Rappler they had no employees named Pollo or Encabo. The spokesperson, who refused to be named, added that he knew Shielbert Encabo personally.
“He used that dummy account,” said the spokesperson. “That’s Mikmik.”
Pollo spent what appeared to be a disproportionate amount of time extolling Encabo’s virtues, occasionally rampaging against allegations of Encabo’s various personal failures. What was clear was that Encabo and Pollo disliked the same people, insulted the same targets, supported the same parties, agreed on the same issues, possessed what appear to be the same sources, and used much the same language as one another. “Yes I know there are similarities with our posts,” Encabo admitted.
Both accounts responded to criticism with their own demands for evidence and lie detector tests. The two have alternately denied acquaintance and claimed to be in contact. While Pollo said she never met Encabo, she occasionally responded to comments directed to “Mek.”
Comment by Don Wynx ReyByahero Morgado
Mek, you know your claims aren’t true. Don’t keep making up stories, you animal.
your political career, instead of screwing around… The lies you’ve been saying, you animal,
be a professional. Don’t be rotten. Thank you.
Reply by Rachel Pollo
Don Wynx ReyByahero Morgado IT’S VERY TRUE YOU KNOW REX YOU’RE THE
ONE WHO SHOULDN’T FOOL AROUND YOU SHOULD BE TELLING THE
Pollo did not limit herself to singling out politicians. Since 2018, Pollo had persisted in attacking a local businessman named Ritchie Paul “Ching” Manugas, who was also the brother-in-law of the murdered Kwati Donaire.
Pollo said Manugas was guilty of child molestation, and insinuated Manugas had illegal drug ties.
“How true is it that Franz Sabalones’ drug money is in Ching Manugas’ account?” Pollo posted. “A million giggles!”
On his Facebook page, Ching Manugas pleaded for advice on dealing with Shielbert Encabo “in a legal way.”
In an interview with Rappler, Manugas denied all Pollo’s claims and described himself as Encabo’s uncle. He said Encabo, a neighbor, had begun targeting his family after Manugas made public Encabo’s alleged scheme to pocket funds raised for public events. Manugas addressed his nephew directly in a public Facebook post.
…Almost every morning you’d come to our house me or my wife would advise you to stop your insanity on badmouthing. You replied that you don’t even listen to your own mother, much less us. And now you’re attacking us in your fb original account/fake account mikmik mikay alerta encabo/Rachel pollo and others.
Pollo responded immediately. “I will not permit anyone to blame Micmic Encabo,” she said. “It just so happens that Micmic is a person who never lies and is ready to say what is wrong with anyone, and I salute him.”
‘Kill this people’
Manugas became one of Pollo’s constant targets. He also found himself in Paula Marie Mijares’ kill list. “Kill this people,” the Mijares account said.
“They are looking for Ching [Manugas] now, he’s being too confident,” wrote Mijares. “Better ching to leave San Fernando or die!”
“Why catch him just kill him already,” suggested the Rachel Pollo account.
The Mijares account proceeded to release Manugas’ personal information.
“I have here the photo of manugas car plate#,” wrote Mijares, posting a picture of a parked vehicle with the plate number clearly visible. Mijares claimed the photo was from “a source.”
Facebook terms and conditions also prohibit users from “facilitating or coordinating future activity, criminal or otherwise, that is intended or likely to cause harm to people.”
Manugas, on his page, posted a screenshot of the Mijares post.
“I confirmed that my neighbor saw Mik Mik Encabo taking a picture of my car,” he said.
He told Rappler that while Encabo “really had no connection with intelligence people,” he would exchange information with mayoral candidate Feliciano. Feliciano has yet to respond to Rappler’s request for a follow-up interview.
“Whatever kill list Paula Marie Mijares would post, whoever was number one down to seven or eight, those are the same names Ruben Feliciano say over Bombo Radyo,” Manugas said. “I heard him myself.”
Facebook requires the use of an individual’s genuine name, although the platform recommends that those who register “use the same name that you use in everyday life.” Users are allowed only a single account each, and are obliged to provide accurate information.
In the third quarter of 2018, Facebook removed 754 million fake accounts globally. In the Philippines, a little more than a month ago, the social media giant took down 200 pages and accounts it attributed to Nic Gabunada, the social media manager of President Duterte’s 2016 campaign.
The takedown followed the January ban of Twinmark Media, the company behind the popular Trending News Portal patronized by former Presidential Communications Operations Office assistant secretary Mocha Uson. Twinmark was banned for violating Facebook’s misrepresentation and spam policies, as well as for selling access and administrator rights to pages it created. Those pages included TNP Media, which had 4.3 million followers.
In a statement to Rappler, Facebook admitted that while they will never be able to catch all the accounts, significant improvements had been made in detecting and removing fake accounts.
In the case of “Political Stories from San Fernando,” a rogue’s gallery of accounts began posting in early 2019 applauding the recent murders in the municipality. The Rachel Pollo account was joined by Brutos Salgo, and later Paula Marie Mijares. Two other accounts, Marco Makisig and Ma Lina Eyo, rapidly began to populate the comments section. They provided little new information beyond vicious attacks against the dead and support for Mijares and Pollo.
On the day Paula Marie Mijares posted the crime scene photo of Kwati Donaire’s corpse, Makisig said he hoped the murder report wasn’t hoax. “I hope it’s true that he’s dead,” he posted.
Most of these accounts, with the exception of Shielbert Encabo, had little to no public profiles, showing none of the daily interactions and circles of relationships that characterize legitimate Facebook pages. Salgo, Mijares, Makisig, and Eyo all joined the “Political Stories” page during the same four-month period. Rappler contacted the owners of each of these accounts through Facebook Messenger. None of them have responded.
‘That’s what my enemies say’
On July 9, 2013, an account named Neil Enad Enriquez thanked the group’s administrator for accepting him into “Political Stories.” Enriquez claimed to be the former three-term councilor from San Fernando who ran the municipality under former mayor Abe Canoy.
On February 3, Cebu Daily News reported that “a certain Neil Enriquez,” with mayoral challenger Ruben Feliciano, had been invited by police for questioning over Facebook posts claiming that illegal drugs were behind the San Fernando murders.
Police Colonel Manuel Abrugena, director of the Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO), clarified that the summons did not mean Enriquez and Feliciano were persons of interest, only that they were “part of the investigation.” Both appeared to speak to the police, but authorities said those conversations are confidential.
While there is at least one other account on “Political Stories” using Enriquez’ name, it was the Neil Enad Enriquez account that maintained a constant presence. Enriquez kept his face hidden behind the brim of a baseball cap on his profile photo. The cover picture is of a bullet flying from a gun. Police said Enriquez had admitted to owning firearms with expired licenses.
There have been allegations that Enriquez is actually the man behind the administrator account styling itself as Voxpopuli Voxlege. “That’s what all my online political enemies say,” the Enriquez account told Rappler.
Rappler interviewed Enriquez over Facebook Messenger. He was unwilling to speak in person, or even over the phone, citing the recent death of his own mother that kept him at the family’s wake.
“It’s noisy here at the wake,” Enriquez said on Messenger.
Rappler is unable to confirm if it was the former municipal administrator operating the Neil Enad Enriquez account. A local Cebu reporter said he had arranged a meeting in 2018 with Enriquez through the Neil Enad Enriquez Facebook account, and confirmed that Neil Enriquez, the former municipal administor, had appeared for the meeting personally.
While Enriquez answered Rappler’s questions in detail through chat messages, the phone number he provided appeared inactive. Messages and calls to that number have gone unanswered, and there has been no response from the older Enriquez account. Attempts to verify his identity through other means have failed.
For purposes of this story, all quotes attributed to Enriquez, unless specified otherwise, were sourced from statements made by the Neil Enad Enriquez account, including Rappler’s 23-question interview and the 1,016 posts and numerous comments the account posted on the “Political Stories” Facebook group from July 2013 to April 2019.
NEIL ENAD ENRIQUEZ
Profile photo: Male with face hidden
Debut on Political Stories: 9 Jul 2013
Exit from Political Stories: 24 Apr 2019
Total posts: At least 1,169
Total comments: At least 822
Claim: ”You’ll vote for a dead man?”
‘He better drink poison’
Neil Enriquez described himself as the former campaign manager of the Canoy camp, and the municipal administrator under then-mayor Abe Canoy. He told Rappler he had no plans to run for any future elective positions. He said he had declined offers from the Canoy camp to run as either vice mayor or municipal councilor.
On “Political Stories,” Enriquez often leveraged his connections, offering inside information on politics within Abe Canoy’s camp – “his wife didn’t let him run for mayor because it’s too dangerous now” – while advising members on how to prove corruption among the Reluyas.
While his earlier posts were mostly innocuous, he appeared to gain confidence in late 2016, launching into an almost reckless series of insults against Reluya supporters. While he would sometimes compare the two administrations’ varying achievements, he countered disagreement from other members with antagonism.
Many of the conversations deteriorated into name-calling from both sides. “Go buy brains at the market,” Enriquez told one user. He saved most of his vitriol for the comments section. “She is the queen of ugliness,” he said of Mayor Neneth Reluya. “They were wearing yellow like girls,” he said of a rival campaign sortie. “Better if Nonoy drinks poison,” he said of Nonoy Reluya in November of 2018, a comment he later denied having made.
Asked about his language, Enriquez said he reserved his insults “for trolls and fake account users.”
“You’re way too affected,” he told one protesting group member, who called out Enriquez for mocking the murdered Nonoy Reluya. “You’re probably from the same group as the dead.” It was a sentiment he would repeat many times.
January 26 2019 at 6:40 am
Vince Cruz Mendoza: Everything you say is recorded here councilor, you moron, someone should shut your mouth
January 26, 2019 at 9:25 am
Neil Enad Enriquez: Record it well, because that’s all you people can do. Maybe you’re supporters of drug addicts. Because you’re probably all addicts.
After Paula Marie Mijares posted a photo of Kwati Donaire’s corpse on the “Political Stories” timeline, Enriquez said the dead man “looks like a slaughtered chicken.” The comment was posted at 11:14 am on February 23. But Enriquez told Rappler he didn’t recall ever calling Alfonso Donaire, that. After all, Donaire also happens to be his son’s godfather.
Mayor Reluya told Rappler it was Enriquez and her mayoral rival Ruben Feliciano who had been posting threats against her family. It was the reason, she said, “that it didn’t affect us at all.”
“Coming from the mouth of Feliciano, and Enriquez, maybe we just took it as an attempt to malign us, because of the elections,” the mayor told Rappler.
As far as Rappler can determine from available posts, Enriquez stopped short of direct threats.
“Don’t blame us when someone’s killed out there,” he told readers. “That’s all on you. We just comment on your antics.”
Enriquez told Rappler he was against anyone’s murder, and that he has never tagged anyone as a drug dealer. He said all his posts were “based on either my personal knowledge on the issue or on news links and court documents.”
He was correct, to an extent. The four candidates for municipal councilor accused on “Political Stories” of drug involvement had been publicly named by the police. Some had been raided and arrested. But Enriquez’ attempt to tar the Reluyas with the same brush – “all of them are allies of the mayor” – may have been inaccurate.
Three of the four men ran and won under the Canoy ticket in 2016, and, according to Comelec records, were registered independents for the 2019 elections.
On “Political Stories,” Enriquez said he blamed the dead for their own murders, referring to allegations of drug money received: “They were given warnings before, why didn’t they just stop?” He called the slew of killings a “harvest of addicts,” and told a Reluya supporter, “Your protector is dead.”
“I hear the leaders on the other side are afraid,” he posted in January. “Why would you be afraid if you’re not on the narco list?” He doubled down when questioned – “I’m very sure. You should ask where they’re hiding now hahaha.”
He said only addicts were on the list, and told a Reluya supporter that “you all should hide because the sixth day is soon.”
The sixth day, Enriquez said, “was the chosen day for the collection of society’s trash.”
Dacalos, Arriesgado, and Nonoy Reluya had been killed within six days of each other.
‘Let’s give them a thrill’
The fact that large portions of the violent content on “Political Stories” emanated from a few accounts does not mean Reluya supporters did not engage in name-calling, drug-tagging, or occasional hate speech. Candidates Feliciano and Canoy have been referred to as doddering fools and corrupt politicos, with Feliciano singled out for “looking like a killer.”
Shielbert Alerta Encabo, allegedly Rachel Pollo, has been the target of multiple slurs attacking him for his gender and relationships. He was occasionaly tagged as a drug dealer.
Many of the self-confessed Reluya supporters who were members of the page gave as good as they got. Enriquez has been called ugly, stupid, and a fat pig, among many other insults.
By his own estimation, Enriquez wielded major influence. “I bet nobody believes what you say anymore,” one group member told him, at the height of an argument. “I’ve never lost in an election,” Enriquez replied, adding that he had gained more support just from the “Political Stories” page.
“More than five thousand believe me here,” he wrote. “You can count your supporters with one hand.”
Certainly Enriquez lent his credibility to Salgo, Mijares, Pollo, Makisig, and Eyo, whether inadvertently or otherwise. He responded to their accounts in dozens of comments, whether with gifs, emoticons, suggestions, appeals to other members to “just listen to them,” or with outright agreement.
“I may have had some conversation with them online but most likely because the topic was interesting,” he told Rappler. “They are dummy accounts. Their post or comment shouldn’t be taken as gospel truths.” While he admitted he may have applauded them, it was “mostly on the coincidence.”
Enriquez said he does not recall reading any posts advocating murder.
Rappler reviewed all of Paula Marie Mijares’ posts one week before this story was published. Many of Mijares’ statements involved admissions of murder, glee at her successful predictions, and promises to assassinate San Fernando residents.
Of her 20 publicly-available posts, Enriquez either commented on, or liked 18 of them, and often did both. He left requests for more information in the comments section. “Hello Paula,” he would say. “What are the updates from your crystal ball?”
“I don’t recall to have encouraged Paula,” he told Rappler. “I may have asked her for updates on her post like most people who may have come across it.”
Enriquez went as far as offering social media advice when the Mijares account began listing new murder targets. At the time, Mijares had been publishing additional names on the comments section of a Rachel Pollo post.
“Start a new post for the list,” Enriquez urged Mijares. “Don’t put it in the comment section.”
“Not yet,” Mijares responded. “Because we’re waiting for the go signal of our head. So to those who are included in the lists, hide now so you can still save your lives, what a waste. Maybe this week we will do the posting but for now, let’s give them a thrill.”
Neil Enad Enriquez
“Start a new post for the list. Don’t put it in the comment section.”
Reply by Paula Marie Mijares
“Not yet because we’re waiting for the go signal of our head. So to those who are included in the lists, hide now so you can still save your lives, what a waste. Maybe this week we will do the posting but for now, let’s give them a thrill.”
Two weeks later, possibly following Enriquez’ advice, Paula Marie Mijares delivered on her promise, posting a neat list of eight new targets a little past midnight of February 27, 2019.
“All set for this Tokhang list,” Mijares wrote.
At the time it was posted, Paula Marie Mijares, who joined the group in January, held a “Rising Star” badge from Facebook, one among several features the social media platform had rolled out in 2017.
A Facebook Rising Star is given to “group members who ‘contribute to the community’ within their first month of membership.” They appear for new members who receive the “most comments and reactions to their posts and comments.”
Mijares’ list included a zone leader, five local candidates, a candidate’s daughter, and Encabo’s uncle, Ching Manugas, who had become the constant target of Rachel Pollo’s ire. A number of them were either supporters or members of the Reluya camp.
On March 5, the municipal council of San Fernando held a special session to discuss the emergence of what they had begun to call the second kill list. Four local groups filed a complaint, asking both the municipal council and the police to investigate.
One of the men named spoke about the fear he would be killed.
“Ever since we reported the list to the police station, I noticed there were people following me whenever I left the house,” the man told a local reporter. “Since then I’ve been calling the police every time I left the house.”
Police said none of the eight newly-named targets were involved in the illegal drug trade.
Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas called the list “fake news and a hoax.” He said they were probably created by “residents who have nothing to do in their free time.”
“This issue is because of the elections. Their information was hoax and it went viral because many reacted.” Sinas told the media. He added that police were trying to validate the reports. “We do not know if the threat is real or not. The verification will take time.”
The second kill list eventually disappeared from the page. Facebook said it had received a user report and removed the post for violating terms and conditions.
On March 8, another Mijares post went live. She wrote down two of the names on the list, and the hashtags: “#druglist” and “#accurate.”
“Who’s next?” she asked.
A.k.a. Rachel Pollo
In mid-March, local media published a photo of a lanky, long-haired young man in glasses being led away by police agents.
“Call center agent nabbed for cyber libel,” reported SunStar. “Man nabbed over ‘fake’ drug list,” published The Freeman. “San Fernando resident denies posting defamatory statements, ‘drug list’ on Facebook,” wrote the Cebu Daily News in its headline.
Shielbert Michael Alerta Encabo, described in the court resolution as “aka Micmic Encabo aka Mikay Alerta Encabo aka Rachel Pollo,” was arrested on March 19, 2019 on orders of Branch 11 of the Cebu Regional Trial Court.
The complainant was Ritchie Paul B. Manugas, the man “Political Stories” referred to as Ching Manugas, whom Mijares and Pollo had added to kill lists. Manugas told Rappler he filed the case in late 2018. Two other witnesses, along with Manugas, “asserted categorically” that Encabo was the operator of the Rachel Pollo account.
Manugas said he was thankful for the decision that led to Encabo’s arrest. His wife, he said, woke up nightly in tears after being tagged for drug dealing. His own small printing business had been hit hard by the online attacks, with commissions falling through after the kill lists were released.
“I did it for everyone,” Manugas told Rappler. “For all the people he did wrong on Facebook, because there really were so many. If you read the posts, it was as if a cockroach did him wrong he would post about it on Facebook and attack it.”
Encabo denied the allegations in a counter-affidavit reported in the local media, and insisted that he only ran a single Facebook account under the name of Shielbert Alerta Encabo. He said he “didn’t know and had never heard of Rachel Pollo” – a claim that his own posts belie.
A copy of a resolution filed by the provincial prosecutor’s office that Manugas sent Rappler said Encabo had presented “no convincing evidence” to prove his denial.
“He did not even make any attempt to disavow, challenge and oppose the contention of the complainant and his witnesses that he is Rachel Pollo,” read the resolution.
Mayoral candidate Ruben Feliciano admitted to media he knew Encabo was a supporter, but denied having anything to do with Encabo’s online activities.
‘Thank you for the love’
Two days after his arrest, Encabo appeared on the “Political Stories” Facebook page.
“Thank you friends for the love,” he said. “Please continue your strong support for our group!”
Afterwards the Pollo account went silent. In its absence as Encabo’s primary defender, Paula Marie Mijares took up the cudgels.
“I don’t want us to [be tagged] as biased,” wrote Mijares. “We conducted series of investigations about Shielbert Micmic Encabo in four barangays in San Fernando and we found out it’s Negative. We are very serious in this matter but we’re also sorry to the said person who involved in this War on Drugs. Thank you mic for your cooperation in this matter.”
Mijares said her account had no connection to Encabo: “Micmic Encabo is not Paula Marie Mijares. Don’t worry the truth will prevail as soon as possible!”
Like the Pollo account in the past, Mijares also claimed Encabo was in danger. “We received special info.earlier [sic] someone told us here and one of our Intel confirmed that there are threats against MICMIC ENCABO now.”
Encabo replied with his thanks and added that the public should seek out Manugas, among others, because he was angry at him.
The Mijares account told Encabo not to worry – “we will protect u from harm.”
On March 23, the Mijares account left a warning.
“Snipers are everywhere!” wrote Mijares. “One wrong move and ur over! Drug List.”
‘You’re voting for a dead man?’
Several of the accounts attributed to Shielbert Alerta Encabo, with the exception of his personal account, went silent in the aftermath of his arrest. Encabo continued to post support for the Canoy-Feliciano ticket.
The Rachel Pollo account later resurfaced under a new name, with a new photo. It became Lakambini Manugas, a play on the mayor’s first name and the surname of complainant Ritchie Paul Manugas. The account retained the same Facebook ID and post history as Rachel Pollo.
The online activities of Neil Enad Enriquez on the “Political Stories” group did not slow down, and neither did his language.
Enriquez continued to lob insults at Reluya supporters – “You’re voting for a dead man?” – and posting memes of Nonoy Reluya rising from his coffin. He told members often that Nonoy Reluya would still have lost the elections if he had lived.
Enriquez took to calling the Reluya Camp Team Suyop (Cebuano for Team Snort, a reference to the act of snorting meth).
“If what i am doing is considerd to ‘mocked’ the dead, this is only because the dead is still running as a candidate for vice mayor,” he told Rappler via Facebook Messenger.
Shielbert Alerta Encabo was arrested again on April 6. The warrant was issued by Regional Anti-Cybercrime Office 7 “for the crime of cyber libel.”
Bail was fixed at P30,000.
On April 21, 2019, Rappler, through its Cebuano-speaking stringers, began sending requests for interviews to the owners of online accounts Brutos Salgo, Rachel Pollo, now operating under the name Lakambini Manugas, Shielbert Alerta Encabo, Marco Makisig, Ma Lina Eyo, Paula Marie Mijares, and Neil Enad Enriquez.
Encabo acknowledged Rappler’s request one week after he was sent an invitation.
“I want to answer honestly, but I will have to go wait for my lawyer,” he told Rappler. “Don’t worry, if he agrees, I will get to you.”
Enriquez announced to the members of “Political Stories” that he had given Rappler an interview, and thanked “Team Suyop for making me more famous than some of your candidates.”
On April 23, Rappler sent Facebook a list of questions about the activities of the group Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando, or “Political Stories from San Fernando.” The questions included whether “Political Stories” fell within Facebook’s terms and conditions, and if the platform was aware of allegations that credible kill lists were being posted publicly.
Rappler also sent a timeline of events – a version of it is published below – constructed from media reports, publicly-available posts, as well as interviews conducted by its reporters and stringers.
On April 26, at 3:49 in the afternoon, Neil Enad Enriquez contacted Rappler.
“FB just closed our fb group mga estorya sa politika sa san fernando,” he said via Messenger.
Two hours later, Facebook sent Rappler a statement.
“Given the severity of the content reported and our focus on preventing possible offline harm,” wrote a spokesperson, “we have temporarily disabled the Group while our teams do a thorough investigation to identify and remove any more violating content.”
‘Severity of content’
On May 4, the day Rappler published the first part of its investigation on San Fernando’s kill lists, Facebook permanently removed Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando from its platform.
In a statement, the company enumerated a number of Community Standards violations: bullying, harassment, credible threats of violence, the promotion of criminal behavior and the mockery of premature death.
“After a thorough investigation,” a spokesman said, “we have removed the Group for repeated violations of these policies, and several associated accounts for violating our authenticity policies.”
In previous exchanges, Facebook told Rappler it had been ramping up what it called sophisticated detection technology, able to proactively identify potentially violating content for the review of its moderators. It is technology that may have failed in the case of “Political Stories,” where, if the Reluyas’ timeline is to be believed, death threats were posted as early as mid-2018. Rappler’s own analysis shows threats were posted as early as January 3.
There was in fact little need to use sophisticated technology to discover possibly harmful content on the “Political Stories” group. In its statement to Rappler, Facebook took credit for its prompt removal of several posts in “Political Stories” that they claimed had been reported in the past.
Those removals included the second kill list posted by Paula Marie Mijares on February 27, 2019, taken down sometime between its posting and the second week of March. It meant Facebook knew of violent content on the “Political Stories” page at least six weeks before Rappler asked for comment. In comparison, it took Facebook less than 36 hours to suspend “Political Stories” once it knew about Rappler’s investigation.
In 2018, Facebook announced successes in the policing of violent content on its platform. The company said it had made enforcement more efficient, allowing previous judgments to carry over to other questionable materials. “That means,” said Facebook, “if we had already made a decision to take action on content, we could use our technology to automatically apply the same action on extremely similar or identical content.”
It is unclear why group members had been allowed to post similar content after users flagged the kill list Mijares posted. The members of “Political Stories” had been posting variations of Mijares’ kill list since January 2019, with several still available just before the group was disabled. The social media platform did not reply when asked whether it was aware of credible threats prior to Rappler’s request for comment. It only said that most of the posts “had not been previously reported.”
The company told Rappler it maintains a sprawling network of 15,000 content reviewers, operating in multiple time zones globally and speaking at least 50 languages, among them Cebuano.
The company has up to 20 content review sites around the world. One of them is the Philippines.
January 10, 2019
Brutos Salgo says one of the
four candidates for municipal councilor,
Edwin Villaver and
Kwati Donaire whom he linked
to the illegal drug trade, were about to die.
3:45 PM Municipal Councilor
Reneboy Dacalos is murdered
in Barangay South Poblacion, San Fernando, Cebu
January 16, 2019
7 PM Village Captain and
former municipal councilor
Johnny Arriesgado is
murdered in Barangay South Poblacion, San Fernando, Cebu.
Brutos Salgo says the Dacalos and
Arriesgado murders are only of the ‘supporting cast.’
January 18, 2019
Brutos Salgo calls Nonoy
‘the main event.’
shows media first kill list.
Feliciano denies posting
January 22, 2019
5 PM The Reluya van is ambushed.
Nonoy Reluya dies on the scene with members of the
Neneth Reluya survives.
February 9, 2019
2:58 PM Account
Paula Marie Mijares takes credit
for the murder of Nonoy Reluya.
February 15, 2019
Paula Marie Mijares posts ‘we’re
about to find Kwati Donaire,
dead or alive.’
February 23, 2019
6:30 AM Municipal Councilor
Kwati Donaire is killed in
Ramon Magsaysay town, Zamboanga del Sur.
February 27, 2019
Paula Marie Mijares posts second
kill list of eight new names.
April 26, 2019
Facebook suspends the group Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando.
May 4, 2019
Facebook removes Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando from its platform.
‘Still actively posting’
Enriquez told Rappler the timing of the group’s disabling was suspect, particularly since other groups “are still actively posting malicious content against me and our teams and candidates.”
Enriquez named four other groups – Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando Cebu (All Truth No Lies) (No bias), Pulitika sa San Fernando Cebu Ang Kamatuuran Group, Pulitika sa San Fernando Cebu ang Kamatuoran-1 and Maghisgot Kitag Politika, Bai. Three of the four pages were created in the immediate aftermath of the San Fernando murders. Most appear to be focused on rebutting allegations on the “Political Stories” page. Some members claimed they had been blocked by the original “Political Stories” page.
Ricci Reluya said he was proud of his family’s supporters, whom he claimed behave differently from their rivals. He said they were respectful and rational in their rebuttals – “they only become disrespectful when they feel that this person is not being disrespectful anymore.”
While it is true that majority of the posts in the Reluya group were either campaign-related or indignant responses at what they believed offensive behavior by the Feliciano-Canoy camp, the comment sections in these pages also show occasional mockery similar to what can be found in “Political Stories.” Members occasionally referred to Encabo, with one user wondering when “Micmic” would be killed for his trolling, and another saying, “we should just kill [Encabo] one day.”
“As for corrupt people – kill those shits!!!” said one user in a comment. “Hahahahaha when will those addicts be killed?” asked another. A link to a news story quoting President Duterte’s promise of enforcing the death penalty against dealers, thieves, rapists and kidnappers elicited a comment from one user. “Can’t they kill the judges who take bribes from rich criminals?”
Still, violent conversation appeared to be aberrations on the pages. Rappler could not find kill lists, outright promises to murder rivals, or the gleeful celebration of real death that characterized the “Political Stories” group. Many of the members, however, posted behind dummy accounts.
Members of the “Political Stories” group have accused Ricci himself of hiding behind an account named Don Emilio. It was an allegation the younger Reluya denied, while admitting he ran a fake account when he was younger – “to stalk my exes, but I don’t use it anymore.”
“All I know is that our supporters didn’t start using dummy accounts up until recently,” Ricci said, adding that their use only began shortly after the ambush on the Reluya couple. “Maybe to keep themselves safe because with what happened to my father, it could happen more to them.”
Facebook said it was still investigating the four pages Enriquez had called out.
‘They just have to be careful’
Police in San Fernando have recommended that residents file complaints whenever they are threatened, and promised to charge those who are found to have issued grave threats.
San Fernando was declared an election hot spot, under the red category, the highest possible bracket.
The murders of candidates Dacalos, Arriesgado, and Donaire are still being investigated, Cebu Provincial Police Director Manuel Abrugena told Rappler in late April. “We have persons of interest.”
He told Rappler that while they were “still validating” if there were connections between the murders, they found no connections between the spate of violence and the social media kill lists.
He said “appropriate security” had been provided for all candidates who asked for police protection.
“We are doing our best to prevent any eventualities,” Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas told media.
Police identified two men as prime suspects in the Reluya ambush after a deadline set by the national police director. Both suspects are reportedly still at large. While authorities have yet to offer a definitive motive behind the ambush that killed her husband, Mayor Reluya said she believes in “the wisdom of the PNP.”
“I don’t want to say I want results in a month. I can wait,” the mayor told Rappler. “For example, I can wait, provided they can catch the real perpetrators, the real gunmen, the real masterminds.”
Mayor Reluya returned to the mayor’s office on March 6. She said she was aware others on her slate have been listed as targets – “they just have to be careful” – and is counting on the fact there is an existing task force and outside reinforcements.
She told the Philippine News Agency she was taking legal action against her rival Ruben Feliciano. She also said she had spoken to both President Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte about the murders. The mayor’s reelectionist bid has been endorsed by the President.
Feliciano said the mayor should focus on improving San Fernando’s “bleak” illegal drug situation.
Mayor Reluya told Rappler she believed there were others working behind Feliciano. She called him “a smokescreen.”
‘Just political stories’
“All I can say that it’s really interesting that the kill list was given before, and the names that were on it, slowly and surely, were being targeted also,” Ricci told Rappler.
At least three people outside of the kill lists were killed during the three fatal ambushes in January 2019, two of them municipal employees. Ricci called “shallow-minded” the claim that only those involved in illegal drugs should be afraid of violence.
“As if people cannot just simply ride this wave of deaths as drug-related,” he said. “That’s what I think happened. Everyone just rode along.”
The Facebook account of Voxpopuli Voxlege, the administrator of the group, was taken down at the same time Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando was suspended. Facebook said the account violated its policies on misrepresentation.
The social media platform also added that it is requiring verification for a number of member accounts. Verification requires that users send proof of identity that can range from birth certificates, passports, to driver’s licenses.
The public profiles of Rachel Pollo, Marco Makisig, Paula Marie Mijares, and Ma Lina Eyo remained live at publication time. Sheilbert Alerta Encabo was actively posting an hour or so before this story was published. A new account, named Rachell Pollo – with a single spelling difference – was created, using a profile photo Pollo had used in the past.
The Neil Enad Enriquez account is no longer online, neither are his messages, posts, comments or shares. Facebook was unable to confirm whether the account was taken down.
“I’m not a violent person,” Enriquez wrote in the “Political Stories” group before it was suspended. “These are all political stories, that’s all.”
On the same day the Facebook group Mga Estorya sa Politika sa San Fernando was disabled, a new page named Mga Estorya Pulitika Sa San Fernando went active. It was categorized a Public Service and Information Page, instead of a group.
Its creator claimed its posts had a reach of up to 7,000 people. Its members included Neil Enad Enriquez and Shielbert Alerta Encabo, whose message of extravagant praise for Ruben Feliciano – “he reminds me of my Dad” – was published on the new page in full. Many of the posts on the new page could be found on Encabo’s own Facebook page.
Mga Estorya Pulitika Sa San Fernando published its first post at 3:56 pm on April 26. The page was active for nine days.
The post said: “We are totally back!” – Rappler.com
Editor’s Note: All quotes in Filipino and Cebuano were translated to English. Photos of San Fernando’s officials are courtesy of the municipality’s official website.