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Man confesses to fabricating rumor on Filipino mistreatment

Man confesses to fabricating rumor on Filipino mistreatment

Taipei, May 22 (CNA) A Lihpao Daily reporter confessed to police Wednesday that he never personally saw a Filipino denied service at a cafeteria in Taipei amid an onging diplomatic standoff between the two countries. The reporter, identified only by his surname Cheng, wrote in a May 14 Facebook post that a Filipino worker was refused service by a cafeteria owner who was angered by the May 9 attack of a Philippine government vessel on a Taiwanese fishing boat. A 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman was killed in the incident, which occurred in waters where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap.
Cheng admitted to having one of his friends, surnamed Lo, pretend to be the cafeteria owner when he met with Lihpao Daily deputy editor-in-chief Liao Yun-chang on May 17 to defend the veracity of the post. According to police, Lihpao Daily management, realizing that the post was sent by one of its reporters, decided to check with Cheng about it after it went viral on the Internet and drew criticism. Cheng's message was used as evidence that Filipinos working in Taiwan were being discriminated against by locals after the May 9 shooting. During questioning by police officers from the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) early Wednesday, Cheng confessed to only "having heard" of the situation, even though he wrote the story as if he had been there. Both Cheng and Lo, who works at a cram school, told police they felt remorse for having fabricated the rumor. They will be fined up to NT$30,000 (US$1,004) if their spreading of rumors is found to have violated the Social Order Maintenance Act, according to CIB officials. Lihpao Daily issued a statement Wednesday saying that Cheng has been fired, effective immediately. The paper also apologized for the controversy caused by Cheng, but it stressed that the daily never carried Cheng's Facebook post.
It also noted that the paper had tried to verify Cheng's post, including by having Liao and Chang Cheng, editor-in-chief of the 4-Way Voice, a monthly magazine affiliated with Lihpao Daily, ask Cheng to invite the "cafeteria owner" for a meeting. The four met in front of a junior high school in Taipei late on May 17, the daily said. Cheng did not admit to having asked his friend Lo to play the role of "cafeteria owner" until Tuesday evening, the daily said. Meanwhile, Chang, the chief editor of the 4-Way Voice, a monthly magazine catering to Philippine, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Cambodian readers, also offered his apology on his Facebook page late Tuesday night. "I was duped. It's my fault. I apologize," Chang wrote, adding that he would resign to assume responsibility for the mistake.
According to CIB officials, there were three Facebook posts about a Filipino worker denied service at a cafeteria. A 38-year-old woman, identified as Grace Tung, also confessed to police Tuesday only "having heard" about such an incident.
In her May 15 Facebook post, Tung claimed that she bought lunch on behalf of the Filipino worker after he stood for an hour outside the cafeteria but was unable to make his purchase. She also claimed that she berated the owner for his behavior. In her post, she urged the people of Taiwan not to vent their anger on Filipinos working here. Tung's case has been transferred to the Taipei District Court for further probe.
CIB officials said they are still investigating the source of a third Facebook post on the subject.
(By Liu Chien-pang and Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-04-12 07:46 GMT+08:00