Report: Foreign actor likely behind deepfake video of Philippines president calling for military action against China

A “foreign actor” is likely responsible for manipulated video content that made the Philippine President sound like he was calling for military action against China, according to his communications office.

The government is investigating the spread of the manipulated video and will take legal action against those responsible, the communications office said in a statement. The deepfakes “seemed to urge the Armed Forces to act against another nation” and have since been removed, the office said, without mentioning China.

The fake content circulated earlier this month amid increasing tensions between the Philippines and China regarding their overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. Marcos had repeatedly said he’s not trying to provoke Beijing as his country asserts its rights and sends ships to disputed waters where encounters with China have become more frequent.

A spokesperson said the deepfakes portrayed the Philippine leader as calling for the use of force to retaliate against China. His communications office denied this earlier in the week, and said there is no such directive from the president.

The Marcos deepfakes demonstrate how countries around the world from the U.S. to India are grappling with manipulated online content seeking to influence politics as artificial intelligence advances.