Philippine election agency warns fake 'disqualification notice' shared online
As millions of Filipinos thronged polling stations to elect a new president, social media posts shared purported documents from the Philippine election agency alongside a claim that one senatorial candidate and five minor political parties were disqualified for alleged communist links. But the documents featured in the posts are fake, according to the election agency. There was no record of the purported disqualification notice on the election agency's websites.
People wearing masks formed long queues before dawn on May 9 to cast their votes for president and national and local officials when polling stations opened across the archipelago, AFP reported.
Screenshots of purported disqualification notices from Philippine election agency Comelec were shared on Facebook here one day earlier.
One set of screenshots appears to show a resolution granting a disqualification petition filed by "Angela O. Aguilar" against senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares and five parties vying for seats in Congress.
The screenshots say Colmenares and five party-list groups -- BAYAN MUNA, Anakpawis, Kabataan, ACT Teachers and Gabriela Women's Party -- were "involved in the funding" of a communist rebel group and were disqualified from running for office.
In the Philippines, the party-list system seeks to give citizens from marginalised groups representation in Congress.
Another screenshot purports to show a Comelec press release allegedly issued by spokesman John Rex Laudiangco.
It purportedly states in part: "COMELEC DISQUALIFIES MAKABAYAN BLOC AND NERI COLMENARES FROM THE MAY 2022 ELECTIONS".
The post's Tagalog-language caption similarly claims that the candidates were disqualified for alleged communist links.
Similar screenshots were also shared alongside a similar claim on TikTok here, here, and here and in other Facebook posts here, here, and here.
But the purported documents shared in the posts are "fake", according to Comelec.
In response to the misleading posts, Comelec spokesman Laudiangco said in a press briefing on May 8: "I was in contact with the commissioners who supposedly signed the resolution... and this document circulating regarding some party-list and senatorial candidate is fake and spurious."
Laudiangco also said he did not issue the press release shared in the misleading posts.
His comments can be heard from the 12-minute 39-second mark of this video streamed live on Comelec's official Facebook channel.
AFP conducted multiple keyword searches on Comelec's official online channels and did not find any record of the alleged disqualifications.
AFP analysed the two-page document circulating online and found it was lacking in detail on the legal basis for the disqualification decision.
Further keyword searches found the misleading document's format was inconsistent with a genuine Comelec ruling on a disqualification case.
A copy of a genuine 31-page ruling that dismissed a disqualification case filed against presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr was published online here by CNN Philippines on April 20, 2022.
It describes in detail the facts of the disqualification case and the legal basis for the decision.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the purported document in the false posts (left) and a genuine Comelec ruling document (right):
Google keyword searches also found old reports that stated "Angela O. Aguilar" sought to disqualify Colmenares and the five parties when they ran for office in 2019.
But her petition was dismissed in 2020, according to several Philippine news reports published here, here, and here.
Similar false disqualification claims circulated in the 2019 elections and were debunked by AFP here.