VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Another ‘Aquino vs Duterte’ comparison MISLEADS with 2018 Manila Bay photo

Three days after local media reported that a fresh layer of dolomite sand was poured over the Manila Bay shoreline last week as part of a rehabilitation project by the government, a Facebook (FB) page re-used a 2018 photo of the body of water filled with trash to claim that was what it looked like during the administration of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. This is misleading.

On April 17, FB page Unofficial: Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa Solid Supporters uploaded a collage of two photos, comparing a garbage-filled Manila Bay with a spotless beach.

The top image, however, was taken two years into the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte. It is a Philippine Star file photo showing the iconic bay filled with plastic waste and driftwood after Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut) hit the country in September 2018.

The FB page superimposed the words “TATAK DILAWAN NAKAKAMISS (Trademark Yellow, how we miss it)” on that photo, implying it was taken during Aquino’s term. Dilawan (yellow) is a colloquial term referring to supporters of Aquino and the Liberal Party.

The bottom picture, showing the Manila Bay’s newly-built beach front, could be traced to an image uploaded by Earlo Bringas, a Net 25 News reporter, on Sept. 19, 2020 after the man-made beach was temporarily opened to the public. It was captioned “TATAK DUTERTE NAKAKAINIS (Trademark Duterte, annoying).”

In two days, Unofficial: Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa Solid Supporters’ misleading post got a total of 7,100 reactions, 1,700 shares, and 700 comments on FB. Its top traffic generators were FB public groups RUN SARA RUN for PRESIDENT, SARA DUTERTE for President Movement, and CEBU for SARA DUTERTE, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

The post-Ompong photo of Manila Bay by the Philippine Star has been used multiple times in the past to mislead people into thinking it was taken before the Duterte administration.

Unofficial: Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa Solid Supporters was created in July 2016. It has been flagged more than once by VERA Files for publishing disinformation.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)