MANILA, Philippines — Almost a week after the election, partisan politics remained at the center of the social media dialogue among Filipinos as they flooded Facebook and Twitter with angry posts directed at presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his main opponent Vice President Leni Robredo.
On Friday, Robredo held a thanksgiving event in Quezon City and urged her supporters to respect the results of the election.
“We need to accept the decision of the majority and I hope you will stand with me on this,” she said. “We cannot be the reason for further division in this country.”
She also announced at the event that she would put up Angat Buhay Foundation to continue her programs after her term expires on June 30.
But Marcos supporters ignored her message and Marcos’ own call for unity and assailed Robredo for trying to form a “government within a government.”
“I watched VP Robredo’s speech last night. Nakakatakot (It was scary),” one of the posts begin. “They are [the] ones making a repeat of the divisive and disintegrating moves forcing the Marcos regime to declare martial law.”
“Camouflaging as the biggest network of volunteerism. Parang mga NPA na (They’re like the New People’s Army),” the post read.
The post appeared to be just a simple opinion, even if erroneous, of someone who dislikes Robredo, but the post also appears in the accounts of other people, almost word for word.
Robredo left for the United States after her thanksgiving rally on Friday, but for her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez these new “scripts” appear to be part of the “same vicious and relentless wave of disinformation.”
“That such a straightforward intent to help is still being attacked by the troll machinery should worry us all, because this might just be the way the supposed victors will govern: by spreading lies, fomenting hatred, and sowing division,” Gutierrez warned.
Gutierrez’s fears have some bases.
According to Tsek.ph, a multisectoral fact-checking group that monitors election-related disinformation, they have been observing malicious social media posts since November.
Even on Election Day, disinformation still dominated social media as malicious actors seeded false content about fabricated vote tallies and disqualified candidates in a last-ditch attempt to sway voters.
These misleading narratives were “wefts in a pattern of disinformation … that not only sought to influence voters’ choices but also convey an impression that winners had already been picked even before polling closed.”
Even hours before polling places closed on May 9, Tsek.ph monitored multiple claims that declared Marcos and Duterte leading in partial counts.
These fabricated tallies, Tsek.ph noted, used “eye-catching graphics” and “mimicked the interface of mainstream media” and passed them off as real poll results.