Coup plots and fake news
WITH Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV openly engaging President Rodrigo Duterte in a war of words, the spread of coup rumors is not far behind.
Trillanes is a former Navy officer and was involved in two coup attempts against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Duterte himself refers to Trillanes as “sundalong kanin.”
In the recent Senate hearing on the budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), coup rumors were among the subjects of discussion. Trillanes had said that a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general, later identified as retired Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, has been spreading rumors he (Trillanes) was recruiting for a coup against Duterte.
A screen capture of Kakilala’s Facebook account had this post: “Gago itong politician na ito ah. Pinaghirapan ng Armed Forces and AFP Transformation Roadmap para ma-highly professionalize ang corps. Huwag na kayo maniwala yan, bok, maraming sundalo nag sakripisyo including their families dahil na discharged sila for participating in various coups.” Kakilala later admitted posting the comment, but said he was merely reacting to a link that claimed a “popular politician” was recruiting 2006 graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to launch a coup against Duterte. The link was from an article in the blog asianpolicy. press that presented a rumor from an unidentified source (supposedly a respected journalist) about a coup plot.
Kakilala said he immediately deleted his FB post after he was told that the link could be fake news. So there’s that phrase again: fake news.
A check with the Asian Policy blog showed that it claims to “deliver the latest news and information about Asia for the global community. But the article in question, titled “Politician slammed for recruiting 2006 PMA graduates to launch coups vs. Duterte,” aside from having no source, didn’t even have a byline. And it strayed into a PMAyers forum that apparently didn’t check the veracity of the claim. In the Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Año said they haven’t monitored any destabilization plot against Duterte. Still, spreading fake news on coup plots is a dangerous game especially in a polarized setup like the one prevailing in the country today.