Bill Gates not arrested in Philippines over COVID-19 shots
CLAIM: A court in the Philippines has issued an international arrest warrant for Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates over crimes related to COVID-19 vaccines.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Philippine court cited as issuing the arrest order for Gates does not exist. The clerk of court in Manila confirmed to The Associated Press that there is no such case involving Gates in any of the country’s courts. A spokesperson for Gates also said the claim is false.
THE FACTS: Social media users are spreading a fabricated article from a hoax news site to baselessly claim that the billionaire philanthropist is under an international arrest order for “premeditated murder” as part of an investigation into the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.
Some users shared the article, published by News Punch, or screenshots of it, suggesting it was accurate. The site has published numerous stories based on conspiracy theories and has promoted fabricated information and quotes in the past.
“WOAH‼️ WOAH‼️ WOAH‼️ An arrest warrant was just issued for BILL GATES?! Yes! This is REAL!!” wrote on user on Instagram in a post that was liked nearly 4,000 times.
The article claimed without evidence that 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.”
However, no such court currently exists in the Philippines, according to attorney Jennifer Buendia, the clerk of court in Manila.
She told the AP that so-called heinous crimes courts have not existed in Manila for more than 10 years, and its functions were transferred to other special courts. There is also no case involving Gates across the 71 Regional Trial Courts and 30 Metropolitan Trial Courts, Buendia said.
“We don’t have heinous crimes courts in Manila,” Buendia said. “They have ceased to exist since 10 years ago. There is nothing about Bill Gates in our system.”
An arrest warrant can only be issued by a court if there is a criminal case against someone, she added.
“There is none in this case,” she said. “This is really fake news.”
Further, a spokesperson for Gates also confirmed in a statement to the AP was baseless.
“News Punch, LLC and/or its suppliers make no representations about the suitability, reliability, availability, timeliness, and accuracy of the information, software, products, services and related graphics contained on the site for any purpose,” the disclaimer states.
Representatives for News Punch and the author of the article did not return a request for comment.
Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.