A fabricated story about Philippines Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo being barred from traveling to the U.S. illustrates how fake sites are proliferating in countries outside the U.S. The story was originally published on 19 March 2017 on “Al Jazeera Channel,” a knockoff of the actual Al Jazeera news outlet. It was later reprinted nearly verbatim on another web site, PinoyTribune.com:
U.S department of States has announced travel sanction against the Philippines Vice president, Leni Robredo for her continued effort to destabilize the government. Leni, who resigned from Presidents Duterte cabinet last year citing political frustrations has been banned from entering the United States for unspecified period of time, State department noted.
The story hinges on tensions between Vice President Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte. Unlike her American counterpart Mike Pence, Liberal Party member Robredo won her office in a separate election from the president. She is also a member of a different party than Duterte, who is from the PDF-Lapan Party.
While the story accuses Robredo of engaging in a “continued effort to destabilize the government,” Duterte contradicted that premise six days after the story was published, saying that he did not believe she was involved in any efforts to make his administration seem “unpopular.” However, a spokesperson for his office suggested on 24 March 2017 that Robredo was involved with an impeachment complaint filed against Duterte by Rep. Gary Alejano of the Magdalo Party.
In July 2016, Robredo accepted Duterte’s offer to head the national Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, a Cabinet-level position. But she resigned from the Cabinet that December, saying that Duterte had ordered her to stop attending meetings:
This is the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties. Hence, I am tendering my resignation from the Cabinet on Monday, December 5, 2016. With this resignation, you can expect that I will continue to support the positive initiatives of this administration and oppose those that are inimical to the people’s interest.
Later that month, Duterte said he barred her from Cabinet meetings because she had joined rallies calling for him to leave office. The two did sit together while attending the Philippine National Police Academy commencement ceremony in the Silang municipality on 24 March 2017.
We have contacted Robredo’s office seeking comment on both the fake story about the sanctions and the spread of fake news sites in her country.
Placido, Dharel. “Duterte: Robredo Not Involved in Destabilization.”
ABS-CBN. 13 March 2017.
Corrales, Nestor. “Palace Links Robredo to Impeachment Try vs Duterte.”
Inquirer.net. 24 March 2017.
Philippine Star. “First Impeachment Complaint vs Duterte Filed.”
16 March 2017.
Romero, Alexis. “Leni Kicked Out for Attending ‘Ouster’ Rallies — Duterte.”
Philippine Star. 30 December 2016.
Salaverria, Leila B. “When Digong Meets Leni.”
Inquirer.net. 24 March 2017.