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Who is behind Metro Balita?

April 25, 2019

SASS ROGANDO SASOT

AS April kicked in, the black propaganda against the Duterte administration was all out. In a series of YouTube videos titled “Ang Totoong Narcolist,” an anonymous informant named “Bikoy” alleged that members of the Duterte family were receiving payouts from an unknown drug syndicate. Metrobalita.net was implicated by both Dr. Dante Ang and columnist Rigoberto Tiglao as the first website to circulate those videos, in separate articles published on April 22, 2019 in The Manila Times. Neither of them mentioned who was behind that website. This column will fill in the gap.

As Tiglao wrote, the owner of metrobalita.net had ads on its website. Some of them were from Google. To allow Google to post ads, publishers must include the AdSense ID in the HTML code of their websites. The AdSense ID is a unique identifier Google assigns to publishers. This can be publicly seen on the source code of every website. And there are online tools available to trace which other websites — past and present — used that code.

Metrobalita.net’s AdSense ID is 9287075011637877. Some of my readers were able to trace all the websites bearing that ID, which eventually led us to the identity of the person behind metrobalita.net. Out of fear for their lives, they asked me not to disclose the identities revealed.

Google AdSense ID 9287075011637877 can also be seen in another online version of Metro Balita, when it was still a dot com instead of a dot net website. The domain registrant of the old dot com version is Rodel Jayme. This information is publicly accessible via WHOXY, an online tool that reveals the domain registration records of websites.

In the June 5, 2017 archive copy of www.metrobalita.com (https://tinyurl.com/metrobalitaarchived), one can read an explanation of what Metro Balita is:

“Ang METRO BALITA ay inilunsad upang maghatid ng mga mahahalagang balita mula sa iba’t ibang panig ng Pilipinas maging sa ibayong dagat.”

(Metro Balita was established to deliver important news from different parts of the Philippines, as well as from overseas.)

Interestingly, Metro Balita included fighting fake news as one of its objectives.

That explanation was signed, “RJ (METRO Balita Founder).”

The shadow of yellow

Jayme was one of the volunteers of the Mar Roxas-Leni Robredo 2016 campaign. “Have you met someone who purely dedicated all his time to campaigning for Mar Roxas?” introduced his profile in the blog Volunteers Behind Mar and Leni (https://volunteers4marleni.wordpress.com/).

His co-volunteer is another familiar name — Pete Silva — exposed by political blogger RJ Nieto (aka Thinking Pinoy) in January 2017 (“Inside Leni Robredo’s international propaganda machinery”). Silva was actively circulating a document detailing the social media strategy of the Office of the Vice President to attack the critics of Robredo, as well as Bongbong Marcos and his son Sandro. Robredo was heavily criticized in December 2016 when she chose to go on vacation in the United States while her hometown was being ravaged by Typhoon Nina.

Jayme’s involvement with the Yellows is actually older than that. Several posts in a Facebook page called “The Aquino Legacy” (@aquinolegacy) identified Jayme as one of its admins. Examples of such posts are: June 22, 2015 — www.facebook.com/aquinolegacy/posts/1870136716544175; and on Jan. 10, 2016, where Jayme was giving instructions to those who would like to be volunteers for the Roxas-Robredo 2016 campaign — https://www.facebook.com/aquinolegacy/posts/1961377480753431.

This page was created on Feb. 26, 2015 to support the Aquino family. This year, it has been actively campaigning for the reelection of Sen. Bam Aquino. It has also been actively supporting the Senate run of Robredo’s election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal. This devotion to Macalintal was also observed by Tiglao in the postings and ads displayed by metrobalita.net.

Test Article 154

Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code punishes “any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State.”

Evidence is now mounting against the veracity of the claims made in the “Bikoy” videos, which was peddled by Jayme’s Metro Balita as “news.” Through fake bank documents, the Bikoy videos portrayed rural banks as remiss in their duties in flagging dubious transactions. One of these banks was the Rural Bank of Guinobatan in Albay.

On April 23, 2019, after I wrote an open letter to it, the Rural Bank of Guinobatan issued a statement on their Facebook Page which “categorically denies that it has existing bank accounts with the number combinations mentioned and that any of the alleged transactions never happened involving RBGI as mentioned in the videos.”

Thus, the Bikoy videos, enabled by Jayme’s Metro Balita, didn’t just spread false, malicious, and defamatory stories against private and public individuals, they also tarnished the credibility of our banking system.

Isn’t this damaging the interest of the State? Perhaps it’s time to have a test case on Article 154.

srsasot@gmail.com

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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