By NITZ ARANCON and JIGGER JERUSALEM
AN attempt to sow disinformation against reelectionist Mayor Oscar Moreno backfired Friday night as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) moved to track down the source of the so-called “fake news” about the local chief executive’s supposed disqualification from the mayoral race.
As Comelec commissioners had gone disturbed over their forged signatures, Moreno’s lawyer warned that those responsible for the fakery are facing the prospects of being slapped with a string of criminal cases.
“May mga sira ulo talaga,” a fuming Elections Commissioner Luie Tito Guia said of those behind the spread of a fake Comelec document that had his and other commissioners’ forged signatures.
Guia said the other commissioners were “disturbed that our signatures can be copied.”
The other commissioners whose signatures were forged are Socorro Inting and Antonio Kho Jr..
The mayor’s lawyer Dale Bryan Mordeno said those behind the fakery would likely be charged with falsification of public documents and perjury.
Mordeno hinted that Moreno’s legal team was also preparing to file multiple counts of cyber-libel and other criminal cases against the same group.
“Ang papel pa gyud nga gigamit, short bond paper, sukwahi sa standard legal form nga ang papel nga gamiton long bond paper man,” he said.
Mordeno said Moreno’s lawyers have started looking into the disinformation in an effort to bring those behind it to court.
The fake documents were traced to supporters of Moreno’s rival, mayoral candidate Jose Gabriel La Viña. After Gold Star Daily broke the story about Guia’s denial, another daily, Sunstar, reported that the fake documents were sent to reporters by La Viña’s liaison to the media, Nicole Managbanag.
Managbanag denied that she was the source of the fake documents but passed the buck to former Taglimao barangay chairman William Guialani.
She said the documents were merely forwarded to her by Guialani via Facebook Messenger, and that La Viña had nothing to do with it. Managbanag said La Viña was even “shocked.”
Managbanag confirmed that she distributed copies of the fake Comelec order to reporters through Facebook Messenger late Friday afternoon.
She said she decided forward the copies of the fake document after Guialani asserted that it was authentic.
What happened, according to Managbanag, was that a “colleague” called her up and told her that there was a disqualification order against Moreno. She said she then called up Guialani to ask about it.
Guialani filed a disqualification case against Moreno but Guia said the Comelec has yet to make a ruling. The case is pending before the 2nd Division of the Comelec. Incidentally, Guialani is also behind other graft cases against Moreno filed with the Office of the Ombudsman.
Guia said other Comelec commissioners were alarmed when they learned about the fake document that circulated the weekend before today’s elections.
It was Guia who dismissed the document as hoax Friday night.
“That is fake. It did not come from us. No resolution on the case was issued,” said Guia.
The three-page fake document made it appear that the Comelec issued the decision to disqualify Moreno from the mayoral race on May 1, 2019, Labor Day and a non-working holiday.
Photos of the fake order were posted on the “DDS News-CDO” Facebook page at 6:56 pm Friday. As of Saturday morning, it was shared on Facebook 404 times.
In an interview with Gold Star Daily Friday night, Guia said he didn’t remember signing anything pertaining to the disqualification case against Moreno.
The disinformation stirred the hornet’s nest that Moreno’s group quickly called a news conference Friday evening. During the conference, Mordeno said the mayor and members of his legal team did not receive any order from the Comelec. (with reports from Shiela Mae Butlig)