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Anonymous accounts flood WPS discourse with ‘CIA agent’ accusations vs PCG spox

MANILA, Philippines — Similarly worded allegations that Philippine Coast Guard Spokesperson Jay Tarriela was a covert “CIA agent” and supporter of the United States government surfaced online after he publicly condemned the Chinese Coast Guard’s water cannon attack on Filipino vessels in August.

Besides accusing the PCG spokesperson of aligning with the US government and inciting war with China, several accounts also revived a 2004 news story that mentioned Tarriela as one of the subjects of a probe by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on a cheating incident. At least two columnists writing for The Manila Times and Net25 echoed this narrative.

These posts have some of the markings of an influence operation that Philstar.com is tracking across all social media platforms, groups and spaces on the internet. Among others, the posts appear to focus on flooding the discourse on Chinese vessels’ behavior in the West Philippine Sea with accusations that Tarriela is providing intelligence services to the US government.

Based on Philstar.com’s monitoring, a verified account exhibiting troll-like behavior on X (formerly Twitter) first posted accusations that Tarriela worked for the US government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) around two hours after Tarriela called Filipinos defending China amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea “unpatriotic” and “traitors.”

On August 10 at 8:32 a.m., Tarriela posted on X: 

“If you are a Filipino, whether in government or private sector, regardless of your politics, defending and making excuses for China's aggressive behavior should deem you unpatriotic, and a traitor to the Philippines and to our people.”

More than two hours later, at 10:54 a.m., the first to accuse Tarriela of being a “CIA agent” on X, verified user “Ani & Brewed Cofi” (@AniR113), posted: 

“Is it true na CIA agent yan Tarriela? Narinig ko lang. (Is it true that Tarriela is a CIA agent? I just heard.)”

The anonymous account — which regularly posts content in favor of the Chinese government — asked the same question if Tarriela was a “CIA agent” twice more on the same day at around four-hour intervals (at 3:38 p.m., then again at 7:22 p.m.).

In the next two days,

Read more on philstar.com