Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte denounced the use of her image in fake congratulatory messages on Hidilyn Diaz‘ historic, record-breaking feat at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In a statement on July 28, Belmonte described the move as “black propaganda” and a “smear campaign” against her, citing the coming national elections.
“While it is true that I join the rest of the country in celebrating the historic Olympic gold medal win of Hidilyn Diaz, it is absolutely untrue that the fake “congratulatory message” using my picture (and now circulating online) came from me, or anyone from the Quezon City government,” she said.
“In a way, it is somewhat understandable that as the elections draw nearer, malicious individuals will sadly engage in more black propaganda and smear campaigns,” she added.
The local chief executive also lamented that the “foul” campaign against her even involved Diaz.
The communications team of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte says at least two posts that use her name and photo being circulated on social media did not come from her or her office. pic.twitter.com/Lm3chGzGNu
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) July 29, 2021
“Sana naman po, hindi niyo na dinamay si Hidilyn Diaz upang gumawa ng kasinungalingan at siraan ako. Nagkaisa ang buong bansa dahil sa karangalang ibinigay niya sa bawat Pilipino, ngunit ginamit ninyo ito para sa masamang pamumulitika. ‘foul’ po ang tawag diyan,” she said.
Belmonte also congratulated the 30-year-old weightlifter.
“In the meantime, let us all continue to unite behind the spirit and ideals that Hidilyn exemplified, as she symbolically lifted an entire country last July 26: diligence, determination, patriotism, and the will and passion to achieve her dreams,” she said.
“Mabuhay ka, Hidilyn! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, at Mabuhay po tayong lahat,” she added.
Diaz earned the country’s first gold Olympic medal last Monday, July 26.
The Filipina athlete had been receiving well wishes and over P58 million worth of cash prizes and other perks from private companies all week.
Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Interaksyon. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.