Coup plots and fake news

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

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.

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