An old photo of two local mayors posing with a businessman was digitally altered and shared online to allege the city chief executives are with rebel leader Jose Maria Sison instead.
The edited image was first posted on Facebook in December 2020 and has been circulating on the platform since then.
The multiple Facebook posts about it alleged that the picture is proof of the links between officials Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and the Communist Party of the Philippines, which was led by Sison.
One of the users who shared this post claimed: “Ang katibayan ni Joma Sison at sila Yorme Isko Moreno at si Yorme Vico Sotto, kayo na ang humusga kung anong koneksyon nila kay Joma Sison.”
In the image or graphic attached, the edited photo of Sotto, Domagoso and Sison was marked with a big cross mark against a yellow and red background with the text that read: “Suportahan po natin ang mga kasapi ng CPP-NPA-NDF sa darating na halalan.”
A reverse image check, however, would show that Domagoso and Sotto were with businessman Manny V. Pangilinan and not Sison.
The original photo was released on the official website of the Manila City government on July 20, 2019.
The caption read: “Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso poses for a photo with Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto and businessman Manny V. Pangilinan after the MVP Superhero Fun Run.”
Agence France-Presse similarly fact-checked the photo and said the circulation of this fake photo is part of the online “red-tagging” where vocal critics, journalists and even some politicians were accused as communist rebels without proof.
“The image circulated online amid a torrent of misinformation that has put activists, journalists, politicians and lawyers in the firing line as President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and military out alleged supporters of a decades-old communist insurgency,” the report said.
Since last month, organizers of a volunteer-led movement called community pantry, especially Ana Patricia Non, have been associated with the communist rebellion by the government’s task force against local terrorism and supporters of the current administration.
Some organizers and volunteers also bared online that they were being profiled by local authorities within their communities.
Community pantries have sprouted in Metro Manila and some provinces amid the delay and shortage in the government’s financial aid to pandemic-stricken Filipinos.