Philippine Heart Center disowns 'fake' Facebook page that shared pro-Marcos posts: 'We are apolitical'
The Facebook page “Philippine Heart Center” sharing Marcos content is not an authorized account of the actual institution.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) released a joint statement on Nov. 10 saying that the said Facebook page, with over 20,000 followers, is not affiliated with the management of the PHC.
The statement came after the Facebook page carried posts and links to an interview of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos with Toni Gonzaga.
In an interview with One News, the Philippine Heart Center deputy executive director for medical services Dr. Gerry Manzo stressed that the institution is not affiliated with the said social media account.
“That controversial Facebook post with very obvious political inclination is not an official and not an authorized social media account of the Philippine Heart Center,” said Manzo.
“We are apolitical,” said Manzo. “We take care of all patients regardless of affiliations.”
November 10, 2021
The social media post was brought to the attention of the institution two weeks ago. Manzo said the only Facebook pages that the PHC has are for its outpatient services, created in 2020 to reach patients during the pandemic, and for its human resources. The PHC's official website is phc.gov.ph/index.php.
“We don’t want to be part of politics. We don’t like what has happened to us. We are being forced to defend ourselves when we are very busy taking care of patients,” Manzo said.
In a statement, PHC director Dr. Joel Abanilla said in a statement, “There are FB posts showing photos of Phil Heart Center seemingly endorsing a certain presidential candidate! This is false, malicious and illegal.” He also urged people to report or block the posts and the page.
He added that the “Phil Heart Center has never ever authorized anybody to endorse any political nor presidential candidate.”
As of this writing, when one searches for the said Facebook page, it would yield no results.
Before the said Facebook page was apparently removed, it carried the name of the Philippine Heart Center and had the logo of the institution as its profile photo. Its cover photo was a photo of Abanilla and founding director Avenilo Aventura.
Upon checking the page, it was created in September 2015 and carried informative posts on health, awards and accreditations. In 2016, it posted a photo of then President Noynoy Aquino together with officials, including then mayor Herbert Bautista and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte.
In 2020 and through 2021, the page had posts about COVID-19 facts, IATF guidelines, COVID-19 vaccinations and other related news. In August 2021, a post about how to tackle misinformation also appeared on the page.
Before the page disappeared in the afternoon of Nov. 11, its last posts include a photo with a link to a pro-Marcos website with a video that bears a thumbnail photo of the late senator Ninoy Aquino when he was confined at the Philippine Heart Center after suffering a heart attack in his prison cell in Fort Bonifacio in 1980. It said, “This video shows how great the Philippines during Marcos time. Even critics of Marcos like Ninoy Aquino, benefited from his massive projects."
Manzo told One News that the PHC management has an idea who was the individual behind the account and said that they are prepared to take measures to prevent this from happening again.
“We respect the rights of individuals to express themselves but they don’t have the right to misrepresent a national organization and the reputation of the Philippine Heart Center,” Manzo said.
Philippines plagued with fake Facebook acounts
Facebook has seen a rise in fake accounts in social media site in the Philippines that prompted it to take down over 200 pages, groups and accounts in 2019 that uses “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Some 67 Facebook pages, 68 accounts, 40 groups and 25 Instagram accounts were removed for “misleading others about who they were and what they were doing.”
In December 2020, the Department of Finance also disowned a fake Facebook account that offered financial grants to unsuspecting followers. The page was eventually taken down by Facebook.
In September 2020, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police disowned Facebook pages that the social media giant took down (some of which reportedly originated in China) for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” interfering in Asian and American politics.
“The people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing,” Facebook said in a statement in 2020.
How to know if the account or page you are following is authentic or fake
Fraudsters and malicious individuals on social media are getting sophisticated every day, especially when there is money involved, which makes it harder to spot fake accounts and pages on social media.
Like the fake Facebook account of the Philippine Heart Center, it carried posts that are seemingly legitimate—photos of its officials, health-related stories and news, etc. Before it was removed, its “About” portion had the PHC’s legitimate website, e-mail address and mission-vision statement.
According to Facebook, there are several ways to know if a public figure, brand or organization is authentic. These include the following:
• Look for the “Verified” badge (blue and white check mark) on the page or profile. The badge means Facebook has confirmed that the page or profile is the authentic account of the public figure or brand it represents. However, Facebook noted that not all public figures and organizations have a verified badge on their profiles.
• Check the page or account’s URL. If it doesn’t seem associated with the public figure or organization, then it’s probably a fake account.
• Check if its messages or posts are peppered with wrong spelling or grammar.
• Be wary if these people or accounts are directing you to click on a link to claim a prize.
If you are sure that a Facebook account or page is fake, impersonating someone or a scam, you can report it on Facebook by clicking the “Report” option.