Marshall McLuhan Fellow Manny Mogato (in white t-shirt) spoke to members of the UBC Philippine Studies Series (PSS) 0n November 27. Back, from left: Tania Leiva, Gym Pangilinan, Roseller Fabros, Dr. John Paul Catungal, Carlo Figueroa of the Canadian Embassy, Allison Gacad, Teilhard Paradela and Gerald Tembrevilla.
Front from left: Dr. Nora Angeles, Luisa Marshall of Simply the Best, Manny Mogato, Genevieve Cruz, Ted Alcuitas. (Photo: Steve Marshall)


Vancouver, B.C.

’Keyboard army’ undermines media

By Ted Alcuitas

Fake news is undermining the credibility of the media in the Philippines, claims the reporter who exposed Duterte’s ugly war on drugs.

Manuel Mogato, a veteran Reuters reporter, says journalism is a more risky business today as people believe in social media more than what they read in newspapers.

“Journalists are subjected to cyberbullying and have to adopt precautionary measures as they conduct their business,” says Mogato, this year’s Marshall McLuhan Fellow.

Mogato spoke on “Journalism under attack: The phenomenon of fake news and challenges of accountability in the new media” at the Liu Centre in UBC on November 27.

The talk was sponsored by the UBC Philippine Studies Series (PSS) and is the first in a cross-country tour which will bring Mogato to Winnipeg and Toronto.

While the Philippine National Police (PNP) reports that there are now 3,700 killings of drug addicts, Duterte himself disputes the figures as “fake news”.
The Human Rights Watch group, however, estimates that at least 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users were killed in the first six months of President Duterte’s war on drugs, many of which are attributed to “unidentified gunmen”.

The president has openly and publicly endorsed extrajudicial killings in the campaign against drug crime.

Mogato likened the Philippine situation with that of the U.S. where President Trump is constantly deriding the media as ‘fake’ emboldening his supporters to attack journalists who criticize him.

He talked about a “keyboard army” of Facebook and other social media users who defend Duterte and his policies and resort to cyberbullying to silence critics.

Mogato was first attacked by the “army” when his story of Duterte appeared boasting he would kill more drug addicts than Hitler did during the Holocaust.

His Facebook profile image was hacked and changed to make it appear that he was a supporter of Duterte. reported about a Facebook group called the “Duterte Cyber Warriors,” which is behind a plan dubbed Oplan Cyber Tokhang.

Their main purpose is to “attack” those who are “spreading false information” online by reporting them en masse (“mass reporting”) so the targets’ social media accounts would get suspended. The targets were apparently those critical of the Duterte administration.

According to Rappler, the “Duterte Cyber Warriors” also conduct “special ops” such as hacking and social engineering.

During the escalation of the cyber attacks, Reuters offered to let him ‘take a break’ from work and stay in Singapore to let “things pass”.

He did not take the offer but says he has taken precautions to ensure his personal safety.

Along with measures to identify ‘fake news’ Mogato believes there is a great need to promote media literacy in the people.

Mogato will speak on Dec. 5, 2017, 6 pm at Wilson Hall, University of Toronto, 40 Wilcocks Street corner Spadina Ave., Toronto.

The forum is organized by the Filipino Canadian Writers and Journalists Network and Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto.

For inquiries, e-mail: