Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has denounced the recent proliferation of a fake and misleading content on video-sharing website YouTube falsely claiming that she was removed from office and barred from seeking reelection in the upcoming 2022 polls.
De Lima, who has been regularly targeted with fake news stories by pro-Duterte troll farms, stated for the record that contrary to this fake news story, she has not been removed from her post or disqualified as a Senator of the Philippines.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she believes that the circulation of a hoax video about her is part of a disinformation campaign against her, especially now that she has declared her reelection bid for the 2022 elections.
“Obviously, this aims to create confusion among my supporters and to the people who would support my candidacy. As early as now, those with personal and political interests are employing dirty political tactics such as these false information drives against me. What are they afraid of? For me to be reelected,” she said.
“We expect more fake news stories directed at me come election period, knowing that these wicked forces, these paid fake news peddlers, will never stop discrediting me. They will always try to wreak havoc on the national consciousness. Gamit ang kanilang malawak na makinarya, pilit nilang babaluktutin at lalapastanganin ang katotohanan para sa kanilang pansariling agenda,” she added.
Several pro-Duterte pages are sharing the link of a YouTube video that ran a misleading headline implying that De Lima was removed from her post.
Uploaded by PH Breaking News YouTube Channel last July 23, the video’s title read: “KAKAPASOK LANG: BREAKING! GOODNEWS PRES DUTERTE DISQUALIFIED SI DELIMA SA SENADO TALSIK SA PWESTO.” The text “DE LIMA DISQUALIFIED SA SENADO,” meanwhile, was positioned in the center of the video’s thumbnail.
Upon review, the video’s content played a report about Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s reaction to De Lima’s plan to seek reelection in the 2022 polls wherein he said that she is free to seek reelection in the 2022 polls. It has been viewed more than 25,000 times as of this writing.
It may be recalled that De Lima, in an indictment letter to Duterte last July 21, declared that she would seek reelection in the 2022 national elections to continue fighting injustice and human rights abuses, which became rampant under the present administration, and exact accountability therefor.
“Binubuhay na naman nila ang mga fake news laban sa akin. This is not surprising considering that these evil men and women will stop at nothing to completely destroy me,” she said.
As early as 2016, De Lima said fake news have been circulating that she has been removed or ousted as Senator, or that she resigned, but maintained that these are just part of the massive propaganda to intimidate, pressure and discredit her as sitting Senator.
“The Philippine Constitution states that a Senator may be expelled from Office when two-thirds of all the members of the Senate concur to expel a colleague. No such thing has happened. Pure fiction,” she said.
“Even in my unjust detention, I am still fulfilling the mandate given to me by the more than 14 million Filipinos who voted for me,” she said.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, stressed that it is only upon conviction with finality that the penalty of political disqualification can be implemented.
“The Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines and other relevant election laws state that only those convicted with finality of crimes punishable by at least 12 months of imprisonment are disqualified from holding public office. I have not been convicted of any crime based on the charges filed against me by the Duterte regime,” she said.
“I am absolutely innocent of the trumped-up charges against me. Any decent person who would look into these bogus cases and study the accusations and evidence will plainly see that I am not involved in illegal drugs,” she added.
De Lima calls on Google Philippines, the owner of YouTube, to be responsible for the content that it allows to be disseminated in its service. Her office has already reported the said fake video but it has not yet been taken down from the video-sharing website.
“We are still awaiting Google PH’s action about this and as we do so, I want to remind everyone to always check the veracity of clips or stories that they see online. It always pays to do your own validation and research, and be discerning, to avoid being fooled by these fake news stories,” she said. (30)