VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post recycles misleading, baseless claims against Roxas

Read this fact check in Filipino

An online post rehashing a string of misleading, baseless and inaccurate claims about senatorial candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas during his terms as interior and transport secretary made rounds on social media early this month.

STATEMENT

In a Feb. 9 post, Facebook page King of Lies, which purports to be a “group of people exposing the truth behind the Philippine government,” published an infographic with the following claims:

- “P4.7B DILG’S SALINTUBIG PROGRAM 2012-2015. Only 73 out of 276 water supply project had been completed (COA 2013 Audit Report)”;
- “COA SAYS, ‘Return the P1.2 Billion uncollected cash advances you got while [you] were DILG Secretary’”;
- “COA further reminded Mar Roxas [to] include the uncollected Foreign Cash Donations ($513,275.00 Million) ASAP”; and
- “COA is asking ‘what happened to the P5 Billion MRT repair & maintenance fund collected as DOTC head?’”

Source: Facebook page King of Lies, “Ito ba ang iboboto nyo,” Feb. 9, 2019

It also had the caption: “Ito ba ang senador na iboboto nyo (Is this the senator you will vote for)? #notomar, #salintubigprogram #notoLP #yellowtard #yellowshit #kingoflies.”

The infographic has more than 22,000 shares on Facebook, been re-posted by at least 22 different Facebook pages and could have reached at least 1.3 million people on social media.

FACT

The King of Lies post was a mix of claims that were misleading, inaccurate or lacking in proper context. It merely rehashed the exact same claims that first circulated on social media in 2016 in the run-up to the May presidential elections, in which Roxas ran and lost.

We verified each of them.

“P4.7B DILG’S SALINTUBIG PROGRAM 2012-2015. Only 73 out of 276 water supply project had been completed (COA 2013 Audit Report)”

While the Commission on Audit’s (COA) 2013 report on the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) do bear out the post’s claim, King of Lies still misleads by leaving out proper context.

After pointing out issues in the implementation of the DILG’s “Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig Para sa Lahat” or SALINTUBIG program, COA made four recommendations which it declared “partially implemented” in the audit report the following year.

It noted that 81.44 percent of 2012 SALINTUBIG projects have been operational, “indicating that the objective of providing potable water for the waterless municipality is most likely to be achieved.”

Initiated in 2011 by the Department of Health, the SALINTUBIG program aims to provide facilities for safe water supply to municipalities identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

“COA SAYS, ‘Return the P1.2 Billion uncollected cash advances you got while [you] were DILG Secretary’”

That COA singled out Roxas for the P1.2 billion worth of “uncollected” cash advances is inaccurate and misleading.

The Facebook post did not cite which COA document it was supposedly quoting. The 2013 financial report showed that the DILG accumulated P1.1 billion--not P1.2 billion--worth of unliquidated cash advances.

It ranked third out of 10 government agencies with the biggest balance of unliquidated cash advances in 2013, next to the Commission on Elections with P3.214 billion, and the Department of Education with P2.237 billion.

However, the fund, which was meant for local and foreign travels, among others, was appropriated to all DILG officers and employees, not just Roxas alone as secretary. The COA also did not single out Roxas in any of its recommendations.

“COA further reminded Mar Roxas include the uncollected Foreign Cash Donations ($513,275.00 Million) ASAP”

This claim is fabricated. No COA report exists that prompted Roxas on hundreds of billions of dollars in “uncollected Foreign Cash Donations.”

Though the Facebook post did not specify the context of this claim, documents on foreign aid received by the government for Super Typhoon Yolanda victims do not support the amount stated in the infographic. Roxas was DILG secretary when the Category 5 typhoon ravaged the country.

According to COA’s audit report on Super Typhoon Yolanda relief operations, total cash pledges from foreign entities to various government agencies amounted to about $1 billion as of August 2014.

While COA did not mention in its 2014 report the actual amount in cash received by the government, it said it would be less than $1 billion, since “not all pledges materialized into actual donations as others remained as mere pledges.” The pledges were from foreign countries and intergovernmental agencies, and donations coursed through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. It excluded donations made directly to LGUs.

An archived screenshot of the government’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), an online portal of foreign donations for typhoon victims, shows that the government had a total of $26.9 million in cash donations as of March 13, 2017.

“COA is asking ‘what happened to the P5 Billion MRT repair & maintenance fund collected as DOTC head?’”

This claim has no basis. There was no mention of an unaccounted P5-billion Metro Rail Transit (MRT) repair and maintenance fund in COA’s 2011 and 2012 audit reports of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). Roxas was DOTC chief from July 2011 to September 2012.

What state auditors found questionable was the P4.5 billion fund transferred to the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) in 2011 for the MRT 3 expansion project:

“(T)he MOA (memorandum of agreement) between the DOTC and LRTA was not also supported by the Cost Benefit Analysis that was supposed to have been conducted by management in order to ascertain that the said project will be beneficial not only to the government but also to the passengers of the MRT 3.”

Source: COA, DOTC 2011 audit report

As of Oct. 29, 2012, “the fund transferred to LRTA was returned due to the cancellation of the MOA between the DOTC and LRTA and the revocation of the designation of the LRTA as procurement agent for the MRT 3 Capacity Expansion Project,” COA noted in its 2011 report.



Sources:

Commission on Audit, DILG 2013 Audit Report, Part II - Observations and Recommendations, pp. 102-107

Commission on Audit, DILG 2014 Audit Report:

  • Part II - Observations and Recommendations, p. 127
  • Part III - Status of Implementation of Prior Year’s Audit Recommendations, pp. 181-182

Commission on Audit, 2013 Annual Financial Report Volume I-A, p. 78

Commission on Audit, Report on the Audit of Typhoon Yolanda Relief Operations, 2014, pp. 18-19

Commission on Audit, DOTC 2011 Audit Report, Part II - Observations and Recommendations, pp. 111-115

Commission on Audit, DOTC 2012 Audit Report

Marroxas.com, About Page


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

(VERA Files is a part of Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking initiative by the academe and the media for the 2019 Philippine midterm elections.)

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