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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Collage of ‘Tatak LP’ projects MISLEADS with photo from Indonesia

A photo of this "river without a bridge" was taken not in the Philippines but in North Sumatra, a province in Indonesia.

Feb 20, 2021

VERA Files


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In an attempt to criticize the Liberal Party (LP) and its leaders, local Facebook (FB) users are reviving a nearly three-year-old collage of two photos supposedly representing the “LP brand.”

One image was labelled “river without bridge” and the other “bridge without river.”

The photo of the “river without bridge,” shows seven children in their school uniforms half-submerged and crossing a body of water, with their bags raised over their heads. But this was taken not in the Philippines but in North Sumatra, a province in Indonesia.

A reverse image search revealed that the photo of the children was first uploaded on March 27, 2018 by an FB user in the public Indonesian FB group ANAK TAMORA. The uploader had appealed for help for the kids of a village in Serdang Bedagai Regency who “risk their lives” every time they cross the Sungai Buaya (Crocodile River) to go to school.

A photo of the same group of children taken from a different angle was also carried by a March 22, 2018 article published by Indonesian television network iNews, while a March 24, 2018 Metro Siang report of Indonesian TV station MetroTV included a video of the same kids as they were crossing the river.

The other photo in the revived collage — “bridge without river” — shows the Buenavista Slab Bridge located along the Bato-Bontoc Road in Bontoc, Southern Leyte.

Rappler and SunStar reported that the infrastructure, which cost at least P20 million, was constructed in 2013 during the term of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The image had gone viral on social media because of its peculiar feature: it is on ground level with no body of water underneath.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Southern Leyte in 2016 defended the project and explained that the road covered by the bridge underwent several reconstructions in the past because the soil beneath it gets weakened by heavy rains. To stabilize the road, the bridge was built.

Former DPWH Southern Leyte District Engineer Ma. Margarita Junia was also cited in the Sunstar report as saying that the bridge was built “to cross a fault line.” However, a representative from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has refuted Junia’s claim and said no evidence points to the existence of a faultline under the bridge.

A cursory search on FB showed that at least 27 posts carrying the misleading collage have been published from Jan. 19 to Feb. 18 this year. A copy posted by the FB page Every Juan Deserves Fun has gotten the most interactions, receiving over 200 engagements to date.

At least 160 FB posts bearing the collage were published in 2020, while seven copies of the photo were found from 2018 to 2019. The earliest traceable copy of the misleading collage was from a November 2018 FB post with over 1,300 interactions.

The circulating graphic carries the watermark of BISTADO PILIPINAS, a now defunct FB page with a history of peddling 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.)

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