The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), a government agency for research on Philippine history and culture, debunked false claims on Lapulapu’s origins in a statement on Friday, April 30.

The statement, signed by NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante, said all popular accounts and stories outside of established historical sources are considered as “speculative and folkloric and should not be regarded as established facts of history.”

“We do not have any credible eyewitness account or any form of document that may be considered [a] primary source,” Escalante said. “What we know about him are based on accounts of the survivors of the first circumnavigation of the world, especially Antonio Pigafetta.”

Historian and archeologist Jose “Jobers” Bersales had fact-checked the false claims during an interview with ANC.

Bersales said historical sources, such as Maximilianus Transylvanus and Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magellan expedition, have established that Lapulapu was the chieftain of Mactan and that he was present during the Battle of Mactan.

“Talk is cheap, so you can always say anything. The problem is [that] we have historical sources and they (facts) are limited to him being chief of Mactan and that he was there in the battle,” he said.

The issue of Lapulapu’s origins sprung up when Sen. Bong Go claimed that Lapulapu was a part of the ethnic Tausug group of Mindanao in his speech during the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan last April 27.

Before the NHCP released its statement, Go cited the government agency in his apology, claiming that the commission had said there was no clear historical record of the origins of Lapulapu and that the different versions of his biography were considered part of Filipino tradition and culture.

Actor Robin Padilla defended the senator in a live broadcast on social media on April 29, stating that anyone could have their own point of view in the historical account since no one was there to witness the event.

“Walang sinungaling dito [kasi may] kaniya-kaniyang point of view dun. Pareho naman tayong lahat wala dun,” the Duterte supporter said.

The former action star, who is not a historian, claimed the historical accounts were written by Spanish colonizers who did not want to admit that a Muslim had defeated Magellan. Isabell Andrea Pine