Guam – With the troll farms out of the Philippines now out in the open and the feds reportedly involved, the question remains, did any of the five gubernatorial campaigns this election season use foreign entities to handle their social media pages or produce attack ads?
PNC reached out to all five 2018 gubernatorial teams: The lone Republican team of Ray Tenorio and Tony Ada and the four Democratic teams of Frank Aguon and Alicia Limtiaco, Lou Leon Guerrero and Joshua Tenorio, Dennis Rodriguez and David Cruz, and Carl Gutierrez and Fred Bordallo.
We asked them all the same set of questions: We wanted to know if your gubernatorial team utilized or procured any services from the Philippines or any other foreign country for its campaign, more specifically for social media and if you did, can you name the companies or individuals you used for social media?
So far we’ve received responses from Aguon-Limtiaco, Leon Guerrero-Tenorio and Gutierrez Bordallo.
The Aguon-Limtiaco team, which lost in the primaries but is still in the running on a write-in campaign, says they did not use anyone or any organization out of the Philippines and that all of their social media is handled by a local company.
The Leon Guerrero-Tenorio campaign sent us a statement, saying, “No, the Leon Guerrer-Tenorio campaign has not utilized or procured services from foreign entities for any of the campaign’s social media activities. Our social media activities are being conducted internally by campaign staff. Additionally, all production and development of our ads are done locally.”
The Gutierrez-Bordallo team also denied using any social media services out of the Philippines.
In a statement, Sen. Rodriguez responded: “The answer is no. The campaign handled our social media account internally.”
Tenorio-Ada also sent us a statement: “Our campaign manages our page internally like the others. We have never used troll farms.”
PNC’s questions come in the wake of our investigation that suggests foreign interference in Guam’s elections by way of troll farms out of the Philippines. We discovered several Facebook accounts that appear to be fake or automated in which the accounts make similar comments, postings and shares at similar times. Some accounts also post from the Philippines and a number of them even sponsor Facebook ads paid for with Philippines currency.
Most of these accounts, which number in the dozens that we’ve discovered, have one thing in common. They all appear to follow Breyalex Technologies. On Facebook, Breyalex advertises itself as an “IT expert specialists in Online Reputation Management with a long track record – No risk to you.”
The Facebook page lists a Philippine telephone number and address for its contact information. But when you click on its linked website, it shows that it is no longer available.
An online search of Breyalex links it to an individual named Renesar Deunida who has a personal Facebook page. On his personal Facebook page, Deunida posted a video of a promotional ad for Breyalex Technology.
The video suggests the company can be hired or utilized for social media management, including “online reputation,” building a “social media community,” with a “10 million community, 7 million organic profiles” and 15 million Filipinos. It also presents itself as experts in amplification, online crisis communication, expert advice, search engine performance, and that it is “discreet,” “reliable,” and “leading in the Philippines” for “political” and “corporate brands.”
We also sent follow up questions to all five gubernatorial teams asking if they or anyone in their campaign have any affiliation or have ever communicated with Deunida, or if they are aware of any troll accounts from the Philippines supporting their team that are not handled internally. The teams of Leon Guerrero-Tenorio, Gutierrez-Bordallo and Tenorio-Ada all denied any affiliation to Deunida or having any knowledge of troll accounts from the Philippines.