In March 2023, claims went viral that an international arrest warrant from the "Heinous Crimes Court in Manila" had been issued for Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates due to his support of COVID-19 vaccination in that country:
The Heinous Crimes Court in Manila issued the order for the arrest of Gates under article 248 of the revised penal code (RPC), which carries a minimum prison term of 20 years and one day.
The story first appeared on The People's Voice — a rebrand of Newspunch and a long-time and well-known producer of disinformation. As explained in a March 2023 fact check by Reuters, no "Heinous Crimes Court" exists in the Philippines. Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) puts into writing that murder is a crime in that nation.
"When the nation reinstated its death penalty in 1993, it labeled murder and several other offenses as 'heinous crimes' and created special courts to handle such cases," USA Today reported in a similar fact check. "In 2004, the Philippine Supreme Court abolished those special courts, citing the low caseload and the potential for its judges to become targets of violent crime."
A spokesperson for Gates told Politifact in March that no such warrant had been issued. There were no Philippines-based articles supporting the claim that the country had any intent to arrest or investigate Gates over that country's vaccine roll-out, and the sole source of the claim stemmed from a website that frequently makes false claims about Gates.
For these reasons, we rate this claim as "False."
"Bill Gates Arrest Warrant Issued in Philippines For 'Premeditated Murder' Linked To Vaccine Roll Out." The People's Voice, 2 Mar. 2023, https://thepeoplesvoice.tv/bill-gates-arrest-warrant-issued-in-philippines-for-premeditated-murder-linked-to-vaccine-roll-out/.
"Bill Gates Isn't Wanted for 'Premeditated Murder' in the Philippines." Politifact, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2023/mar/08/instagram-posts/bill-gates-isnt-wanted-for-premeditated-murder-in/. Accessed 18 May 2023.
Binder, Matt. "Fake News Sites Are Simply Changing Their Domain Name to Get around Facebook Fact-Checkers." Mashable, 31 Jan. 2019, https://mashable.com/article/yournewswire-news-punch-domain-facebook-fake-news.
"Fact Check-Bill Gates Was Not Issued an Arrest Warrant in the Philippines." Reuters, 7 Mar. 2023. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-bill-gates-arrest-philippines-idUSL1N35F21L.
"Revised Penal Code (An Act Revising the Penal Code and Other Penal Laws No. 3815, December 8, 1930), Articles 122-123, 248." International Commission of Jurists, https://www.icj.org/se-asia-security-law/revised-penal-code-1930/articles-122-123-248-the-revised-penal-code-an-act-revising-the-penal-code-and-other-penal-laws-no-3815-december-8-1930/. Accessed 18 May 2023.
Trela, Nate. "Fact Check: Report of Murder Warrant for Bill Gates in Philippines Is Fabricated." USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2023/03/10/fact-check-false-claim-arrest-warrant-issued-gates-philippines/11442228002/. Accessed 18 May 2023.