Will the real Labor Secretary please stand up — and will he let us know if he’s running for office?
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III raised the alarm about a fake social media account under the name “Silvestre Bello III”, which he said in a press release was being used to solicit funds purportedly to support community pantries or raise funds for the secretary’s election campaign in 2022. The labor secretary has also sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation to identify the people behind the fake account.
The press release did not specify the URL for the fake Facebook account, though it described the account as using the photo of the real Silvestre Bello III, with the About page containing correct personal details. The account’s header image is said to include the logo of DOLE’s flagship program TUPAD, along with a photo of Bello with Tarlac Governor Susan Yap.
A quick search on Facebook shows that there are actually a number of accounts using the name “Silvestre Bello III”, most of which use the secretary’s photo.
One account — which has a whopping 156,000 followers — is listed as a “public figure/ news media website”. The page, which was only put up on April 16, 2021, is described in its About section as “a platform where Sec. Silvestre Bello III’s efforts and contributions to the Filipino people are highlighted. It will show his purpose and pure intention for the betterment of the community. See #MayMalasakit, #MayParaan, #MayLayunin – #MaySilBe.”
The page also appears to link to all the correct information for Sec. Bello, including his campaign’s email address and website. The page joined Facebook a few days after Bello told the press that President Duterte had asked him to run for senator in the 2022 elections. (In May, Bello said he was still mulling his options, as he was “already 77.”) A quick web search will easily turn up results for a bustling market in social media accounts with a large following.
Interestingly, the page replied to a message asking whether the page was connected to Bello’s office, telling us simply to “Go to www.facebook.com/bebotbelloph/.”
But this page isn’t what concerns the secretary. In a press release, Bello called the certified fake account — which only had fewer than 1600 followers as of this writing — “spurious” and “nefarious”, claiming that it was a “despicable scheme to besmirch my name for their advantage.”
Last weekend, the fake Bello publicly posted an appeal to “donate to his community pantry”: “Pwede ba kayo mag donate sa community pantry ko”, the post read. “It is lamentable that some people would resort to this despicable scheme to besmirch my name for their advantage. And it is doubly deplorable that they would use falsehood and deception to victimize others in this time of crisis,” Bello said.
The press release further noted that the Secretary had been using an official account since 2010.
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