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Philippine vice president appeals to priests to help fight ‘new form of vote-buying’

In a meeting with Catholic priests and lay leaders, Vice President Robredo said disinformation is the new form of "vote-buying"

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo is soliciting the help of members of the Catholic clergy to help fight “lies” that she described as a “new form of vote-buying.”

In a meeting with Catholic priests and lay leaders in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, on Tuesday, Robredo said disinformation is the new form of vote-buying.

She noted that disinformation is being used “to corrupt or to influence the hearts and the minds of our people.”

“Parang vote buying na po ito (It’s like vote buying),” said the vice president, adding that if lies will propel a candidate to office, it will encourage others to copy the “scary” way of acquiring a mandate.

“Pag nanalo kasi ang kandidato na ginagamit ‘yung disinformation, nagsi-set tayo ng isang formula ng pananalo, and it is scary (If a candidate wins using disinformation, then we set a formula for winning, and it is scary),” said Robredo.

She framed her campaign as a “battle for the next generation” in which the country’s future and the values of the people are at stake.

“Klaro kasi ‘yung battle lines ngayon (The battle lines are clear),” she said. “‘Yung pinaglalabanan po ngayon (What we’re fighting will set the direction of a country for the next six years. Maraming mga bagay na at stake (A lot are at stake).”

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“Paniniwala ko po, ito ‘yung fight ng ating generation (I believe this is a fight of our generation),” said the vice president.

Robredo, however, expressed “faith and goodness in every Filipino … to choose right over wrong.” She said there are more people “banding together in fighting fake news.”

A report on Agence France Presse this week said Philippine social media has exploded with support for presidential election favorite Ferdinand Marcos Jr., “driven by a massive misinformation campaign aimed at revamping the family brand and smearing his top rival.”

False and misleading claims have flooded Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter in the lead-up to the May 9 polls, pounding Filipinos with a relentless barrage of propaganda on platforms where they rank among the heaviest users in the world, said the report.

Voter surveys show the son and namesake of the country’s former dictator heading towards a landslide victory — the endgame of a decades-long, well-funded effort to return the family to the presidential palace they fled in disgrace in 1986.

Critics and opponents accuse Marcos Jr. and his supporters of trying to portray his father’s two-decade rule as a golden age of peace and prosperity while whitewashing human rights abuses and the plundering of state coffers.

But the effort to make over the family’s image appears to be translating into votes among the largely young electorate and those nostalgic for the Marcos years. – with a report from Agence France Presse

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