FACT CHECK: Fake news on ‘HIV-infected’ fish killing hundreds in Region 10 circulates anew

A social media post claiming that fish contaminated by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes the dreaded acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), has killed hundreds of people in Northern Mindanao is false and an old fake news being circulated anew.

In the past two weeks, thousands of Facebook users shared the false information, some believing it to be true.

The fake news stated:

“Te pahibalo ang tanan bawal sa ta makaun isda karun kay ang dagat gilabayan ug tube sa hospital nga gikan sa mga h.i.v daghan na kaau nangamatay diri cdo 372 iligan 24 gingoog 18 valencia 18 maramag 18 opol 11 mao na ang nangaigo sa ngkaun ug isda busa kamo ayaw sa mo kaun isda ipasa sa tanan para makabalo sila.”

(Translation: Sister, inform everyone not to eat fish because a hospital tube with HIV was thrown at the sea. Many people have already died here in CDO (Cagayan de Oro City) with 372, Iligan with 24, Gingoog with 18, Valencia with 18, Maramag with 18 and Opol with 11. They died after eating fish. Do not eat fish. Spread this so that others will know.)  

The misinformation first surfaced on social media in January 2019 or two years ago.

Teodoro Bacolod, Jr., acting director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Region 10 (BAFR-10), issued a public advisory then describing it as fake news.

“This is to assure the consuming public that all fishery products coming in and out of the region have been duly monitored and inspected by our BFAR-10 Inspection and Quarantine Services personnel to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public,” Bacolod said.

“Moreover, the spread of HIV is not possible by consuming fishes or fishery products. HIV can only be transferred from one person to another – either by engaging in unprotected sex, blood transmission, use of infected needles and breastfeeding,” he added.

The Department of Health – Region 10 (DOH-10) also belied then that HIV can infect fishes, which if eaten by humans could cause deaths.

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1783550/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/doh-normin-eating-fish-cant-cause-hiv-infection

Since January 1, 2023, there have been no media reports from Northern Mindanao that people have died because of eating “HIV-infected” fishes or fishery products.

The BFAR-10 and DOH-10 also have no reports of people dying from eating fishes supposedly infected with HIV.

As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact-check stories. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

About MindaNews Fact Check
MindaNews Fact Check seeks to fight misinformation and disinformation circulating on the internet, news platforms and communities that we serve.
Methodology
As a news media organization, we strictly adhere to accuracy, fairness, balance, independence, accountability and transparency not just in our fact-checking initiative but in all other aspects of our work at MindaNews. We fact-check a claim that is specifically claimed to be a fact and involved the public interest or the welfare of the people. We debunk false claims using official government records, journals or interviews with experts. We don’t fact check opinions.
Correction Policy
Consistent with our trust for factual reporting, we will rectify any error that we have committed. If you spot a factual error, you may notify the MindaNews Editors.
About MindaNews
Mindanao Institute of Journalism​
MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism (MinJourn). MindaNews was founded in 2001 by independent, professional Mindanawon journalists who left the country’s most widely-circulated Manila-based broadsheet to tell the stories of Mindanao from the lenses of Mindanawons.

MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism. It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media.

23C Saturn St. GSIS Subdivision, Davao City Philippines Tel. No.: 082 297 4360 editor [at] mindanews.com

About MindaNews Fact Check

MindaNews Fact Check seeks to fight misinformation and disinformation circulating on the internet, news platforms and communities that we serve. 


What is MindaNews Fact Check?


MindaNews Fact Check tracks and debunks fake news, false claims and misleading statements of government officials, civil society leaders and netizens being spread on the internet, especially on social media sites. MindaNews values truth and accuracy in performing our journalistic work.


Why we fact-check?


Politicians, government officials and other public and private figures at times tend to bend facts to suit or advance their vested interests, or their principals, in effect misleading the public. The distorted facts spread easily with the popularity of the internet and the wide influence of social media.


As independent journalists, our primordial duty is to tell the truth and present facts to help the public discern issues and concerns impacting their lives.


How do we rate claims?


FAKE -  if the claim is completely invented.


FALSE - if the claim contradicts, undermines or disputes truthful facts, actual events and official records (i.e. laws and scientific studies)


MISLEADING – if the claim is based on truth but maliciously twisted that gives a different impression to serve a group or individual’s vested interests.


ALTERED – pertains to images or videos that were manipulated to mislead the public.


MISSING CONTEXT – if the claim needs more clarification or contextualization to make it clearer.

Where do you post your results?


We post our fact-checked stories in www.mindanews.com, on Facebook and Twitter with links to the original piece. We have a dedicated fact check page, where all fact-checked stories can be found. 


How did MindaNews Fact Check start?


Since its establishment in 2001, MindaNews has been living up to its vision of being the “leading provider of accurate, timely and comprehensive news and information on Mindanao and its peoples, serving economically, politically and culturally empowered communities” and its mission to “professionally and responsibly cover Mindanao events, peoples and issues to inform, educate, inspire and influence communities.”


MindaNews was founded by reporters precisely to ensure that reports about Mindanao, an island grouping that has suffered misinformation and disinformation long before these words became fashionable, are accurate. 


Our policy has always been to ensure that reports are thoroughly vetted before they are dispatched and uploaded on our website. 


Our fact-checking initiative with a uniform format started in October 2021 as part of Internews’ pioneering Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator (PFCI) project. Internews is an international non-profit that supports independent media from 100 countries. 


Prior to the PFCI project, MindaNews co-founded Tsek.ph, a collaboration among Philippine media institutions to fight disinformation and misinformation during the 2019. Tsek.ph did the same thing for the 2022 elections. 


Where do you get funds?


MindaNews has sustained its operation through proceeds from subscriptions of its news service  (news, special reports, opinion pieces, photos) and sales of books. It also receives grants from non-state actors.  Editorial prerogative, however, is left entirely to MindaNews. 


MindaNews does not accept funds from politicians or domestic or foreign states for its fact-checking initiative. For the other operations of MindaNews as a media organization in the past two years, we have received grants from the National Endowment for Democracy and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which we use for coverage, staff compensation, administrative expenses and to train other journalists.


MindaNews Fact Check is supported by a grant from Internews.


Do you accept leads from the public for your fact-checking initiative?


MindaNews encourages the public to provide us with leads not only for potential fact-check pieces but other news stories as well of interest to the general public.



Our fact checks include this paragraph encouraging readers to be part of the process: “As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact check pieces.”


MindaNews Fact Check - Methodology

What standards do you follow when fact-checking?


As a news organization, we strictly adhere to accuracy, fairness, balance, independence, accountability and transparency not just in our fact-checking initiative but in all other aspects of our work at MindaNews.


We abide by the Philippine Press Institute’s Journalist’s Code of Ethics. Since we became part of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator project, we have been striving to adhere with the IFCN Code of Principles, in step with our organization’s commitment to non-partisanship, transparency and fairness.


We fact-check a claim that is specifically claimed to be a fact and involved the public interest or the welfare of the people. We debunk false claims using official government records, journals or interviews with experts. 


We don’t fact-check opinions.

How do we fact-check?

Step 1: Team members monitor press conferences, speeches, statements, news, interviews, social media sites, etc. for statements worth fact-checking.


Step 2: When a claim is worth fact-checking, a team member looks for multiple sources to dispute the claim, including tracing the original source document.


Step 3:  Fact-checked claims are then submitted to the editor for copy editing and vetting. The link/s to debunk the claim are always included in the story.  


Step 4: A rating card is prepared to accompany the fact-checked piece, or infographics if needed, to immediately flag readers what the article is all about. 


Step 5: The senior editor takes another look before the article is posted on the website and social media accounts.

Correction Policy

Consistent with our vision and mission as a media institution, we rectify any error committed. If you spot a factual error, you may notify us thru editor@mindanews.com or our Facebook Messenger @Mindanews.


Correction Workflow


  • Errors pointed out are immediately brought to the attention of the editors and the fact-checking team. 


  • The fact-checker is immediately notified for verification. 


  • Once verified, the error is to be corrected within 24 hours and vetted before publication on the website. 


  • Readers will immediately know errors have been corrected through the Editor’s note posted above the article. 


  • The person who notified MindaNews about the error will be informed that the correction has been made.

About MindaNews

MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism (MinJourn). It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media. MinJourn, which is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission with registration number CN201700385, is managed by its Board of Directors. 


MindaNews values its journalistic independence. It started in May 2001 as a media cooperative and in January 2017 registered as a nonstock, nonprofit media organization.  We do not  accept funding from politicians, political parties or partisan groups.


Editorial staff


Editor-in-Chief: Carolyn O. Arguillas
Editors: Robert D. Timonera, Bong S. Sarmiento, H. Marcos C. Mordeno
Reporters/Photojournalists: Froilan Gallardo, Antonio L. Colina IV, Ferdinandh B. Cabrera, Roel Catoto, Manman Dejeto, Allen Estabillo, Frencie Carreon, Richel V. Umel, Chris Panganiban
Social Media Manager: Yas D. Ocampo

Fact-checking Unit: Romer (Bong) Sarmiento, Yas D. Ocampo



Mindanao Institute of Journalism Board of Directors

President: Rhodora Gail T. Ilagan, PhD
Vice President: Romer (Bong) Sarmiento

Members:
Carolyn O. Arguillas
Jose Jowel Canuday, PhD
Robert D. Timonera

Chief Executive Officer: Jose Jowel Canuday, PhD
Board Secretary: Ellen Alinea
Board Treasurer: Amalia B. Cabusao