MANILA (THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Vice - President Leni Robredo's daughter has sought the assistance of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the spread of fake lewd videos that allegedly feature her.
Ms Robredo's camp issued a statement Thursday (April 21) disclosing that in a letter dated April 18, Ms Aika Robredo, through a lawyer, requested assistance from the NBI Cybercrime Division, for investigation of possible cybercrimes and violations of special criminal laws and the Revised Penal Code in the spread of the videos.
"The past few days have seen a sudden surge of uploads and posts in various blogs, porn sites, and social media platforms that mislead the public and give the impression that our client has videos or photos allegedly showing her in a scandalous pose or act," the letter stated, adding that the use of "Robredo" to lure the public to click on the links exposes Ms Aika to ridicule and subjects her to abuse and harassment.
The May 9 election to pick the nation's president, vice-president, senators, and fill 300 lower house seats and 18,000 local posts, is seen as highly consequential, with Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of an ousted dictator, pitted against Ms Robredo for the top post.
Her daughter expressed hopes that the source and those behind the spread of the fabricated videos will be identified and that proper charges will be filed against them.
"Your good office has the necessary tools and equipment to identify the first post, the username(s) and/or accounts, the sites or links and the IP addresses, and the identity/ies of the perpetrator(s)," the letter also said.
A preliminary list of links that the NBI may find useful in its investigation and eventual prosecution of those responsible was also attached with the letter.
While Ms Aika wanted to shrug off these attacks against her and help her mother in her presidential campaign, the vice-president's daughter said "other persons might also be subjected to similar abuse and harassment from the same perpetrators" if such acts are allowed to continue.
Meanwhile, media firms, universities, civil society groups, lawyers and Church leaders have formed several fact-checking coalitions in an unprecedented effort to counter election disinformation.
Nearly half of misinformation online targets Ms Robredo and helps Mr Marcos Jr., according to fact-checking coalition Tsek.ph.
A spokesman for Mr Marcos Jr. did not respond to a request for comment.
"We've seen the damage lies can do. We know that it's impossible to have integrity of elections when we don't have integrity of facts," said Ms Maria Ressa, chief executive of Rappler, a digital media outlet, which is part of FactsFirstPH, a fact-checking collaborative of about 150 organisations.
"In this 'Avengers Assemble' moment, there is strength in standing together. We know what happens when we don't stand up for facts," said Ms Ressa, referring to a gathering of superheroes who take on the villains in the Marvel film.
Ms Ressa, a Nobel Prize laureate, had repeatedly warned of the spread of disinformation on social media platforms in favour of then presidential candidate Mr Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, when Marcos Jr. lost the race for vice president to Ms Robredo.
His daughter, Ms Sara Duterte, is now running with Mr Marcos Jr. for vice president.