PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, April 13, vehemently denied that he had availed of the services of British political consulting firm to secure his win in the 2016 presidential race.
Speaking to reporters in Davao City upon his arrival from Hong Kong, the President said he would not spend money just to gain public trust and get elected as the highest official land through the use of social media.
"I don't know them," Duterte said, when asked about Cambridge Analytica's role in his presidential bid.
"I will not trust Cambrige," the President added.
His statement came amid his reported connection to Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of illegally harvesting the personal data of some 87 million Facebook users.
Duterte's campaign team has come under fire after a May 2015 photograph surfaced, showing them with suspended Cambridge Analytica chief executive officer Alexander Nix.
In the photo, Nix was seen dining with cousins Jose Gabriel Laviña and Peter Tiu Laviña; then National press Club president and now Communications Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco; and Duterte's friend Taipan Millan.
Cambridge Analytica's parent firm, Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), reportedly cited on its website that a Filipino client won the national elections after the foreign consultancy company re-branded him as a "strong, no-nonsense man of action."
The South China Morning Post, in its report, claimed that the SCL was referring to Duterte.
The SCL, in its deleted website content, said: "In the run-up to the national elections, the incumbent client was widely perceived as both kind and honorable, qualities his campaign team thought were potentially election-winning."
"But SCL's research showed that many groups within the electorate were more likely to be swayed by qualities such as toughness and decisiveness. SCL used the cross-cutting issue of crime to rebrand the client as a strong, no-nonsense man of action, who would appeal to the true values of the voters," Cambridge Analytica's parent company added.
Data released by famous social media site Facebook showed the Philippines ranked second in terms of the number of users affected by the data breach, next to the US where the data of over 70 million users were compromised.
Facebook has said around 1.175 million accounts of Filipino users may have been stolen by Cambridge Analytica.
Duterte said it was "insane" for him to hire Cambridge Analytica just to win in the May 9, 2016 presidential elections.
"Why would I pay those fools from Cambridge [Analytica] to work for my presidential campaign? I would have lost had I done that," Duterte said.
"Son of a b****. Had I paid you? I would have lost. That's not true. That's insane," he added.
Duterte was elected as president in 2016 after garnering over 16 million of votes.
On Tuesday, April 10, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte won "fair and square," stressing that the incumbent Philippine leader's landslide win was "a result of the trust and confidence of the Filipino people." (SunStar Philippines)