Posts Fabricate Charge Against Bill Gates in Philippines

11.03.2023, 2:45, Разное
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SciCheck Digest

Social media posts make the unfounded claim that the Heinous Crimes Court in the Philippines issued a warrant for Bill Gates’ arrest for “‘premeditated murder’ linked to vaccine roll out.” That court no longer exists, and a spokesperson for Gates told us there is no warrant for his arrest.

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Bill Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been frequent targets of online misinformation and false claims, increasingly so since the foundation helped fund COVID-19 vaccine research. 

Now posts on social media falsely claim that a Philippine court, the Heinous Crimes Court, has issued a warrant for Gates’ arrest for “premeditated murder.” 

“Looks like the Philippines has issued an international arrest warrant for Bill Gates. Makes my heart happy,” read a Facebook post on March 4.

The claim stems from an article published March 2 on NewsPunch — a website known for spreading misinformation — with the headline, “Bill Gates Arrest Warrant Issued in Philippines For ‘Premeditated Murder’ Linked To Vaccine Roll Out.”

“The judge said Gates, as the founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is ‘wanted in connection with hundreds of thousands of deaths, a number which cannot be estimated at present and is certain to increase exponentially in time,’” NewsPunch said in its fabricated article.

“The Heinous Crimes Court in Manila issued the order for the arrest of Gates under article 248 of the revised penal code (RPC), which carries a minimum prison term of 20 years and one day,” the article continued.

The caption on an Instagram post sharing a screenshot of the article said: “WOAH‼️ WOAH‼️ WOAH‼️ An arrest warrant was just issued for BILL GATES?!  Yes! This is REAL.”

But the claim in the article and social media posts is not real.

We could find no record or report of a warrant for Gates’ arrest. 

A spokesperson for Bill Gates told us in an email, “The claim that a court in the Philippines has issued an international arrest warrant for Bill Gates due to the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is false.”

And there is no heinous crimes court in the current Philippine judicial system. A chart of the Philippine court system shows no such court, according to the Supreme Court of the Philippines Public Information Office.

Anna Su, a law professor at the University of Toronto who worked as a law clerk for the Philippine Supreme Court, told us in an email, “No there is no such court.”

Heinous crimes courts did exist at one time, but were abolished in the Philippines in 2004 by the Supreme Court, in part because of safety concerns for its judges who were potential targets for defendants. Heinous crimes are now tried by regional trial courts, according to the Thirteenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines.

There also is no record of “hundreds of thousands of deaths” due to COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines — or anywhere else — as the NewsPunch article claims. No vaccine is 100% safe, but extensive monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccines have found only rare cases of serious adverse effects.

It’s estimated that COVID-19 vaccines have saved at least 14.4 million lives worldwide, according to a 2022 study published in the Lancet.

Globally, there have been nearly 6.9 million deaths due to COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. There have been more than 4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines and more than 66,000 deaths.

As of March 5, more than 73.9 million people in the Philippines have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard. At least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been given to nearly 72% of the population, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

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