VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Crediting Mark Villar, Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ for Cebu bridge started during Aquino’s term needs context

In a verified Facebook (FB) page of volleyball player and former Pinoy Big Brother housemate Tricia Santos, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and the Duterte administration’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” program were credited for the ongoing construction of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX).

This needs context.

A reader asked VERA Files Fact Check to look into Santos’ post.

STATEMENT

The June 23 post carried an aerial shot of the Cebu-Cordova Link bridge originally published by Villar that same day in his official FB page. It goes with the caption:

“Cebu is like a second home so nakaka happy ang bagong bridge na ito. Mas mabilis na ang byahe papunta Mactan and Cordova. Good job #BuildBuildBuild team and Sec Mark Villar!”

(Cebu is like a second home so this new bridge makes me happy. Traveling to Mactan and Cordova will now be faster. Good job #BuildBuildBuild team and Sec. Mark Villar!)

Source: Tricia Santos official Facebook page, Cebu is like a second home… (Archived), June 23, 2021

As of July 1, the post has around 5,900 ‘like’ and ‘heart’ reactions, 148 comments, and 122 shares. It also could have reached 3.3 million FB users, given the page’s number of followers.

FACT

While it was President Rodrigo Duterte who attended CCLEX’s groundbreaking ceremony in March 2017, negotiations for the “third bridge” that will connect mainland Cebu with the island of Mactan — next to the Sergio Osmeña Bridge and the Marcelo Fernan Bridge — started as early as 2014 under the Aquino administration.

Needs context: Cebu Cordova Bridge

Villar took office as Public Works secretary in August 2016, after he resigned from the House of Representatives as a congressman of Las Piñas City. Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program, on the other hand, was officially launched in April 2017.

The CCLEX is not among the government’s infrastructure flagship projects listed by the National Economic and Development Authority in its annual comprehensive status reports filed from June 2017 to May 2021.

It is also not included in the projects enumerated in the “Build, Build, Build” official website.

According to the Oct. 20, 2014 reports of SunStar Cebu and Cebu Daily News, a proposal made by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) to build a bridge linking Cebu City to the municipality of Cordova was undergoing review by a joint venture selection committee (JV-SC) convened by the two local government units concerned.

Less than two years later, a notice of award was granted to MPTC “for the financing, design, construction, implementation, operation and maintenance” of the Cebu-Cordova Bridge that will stretch for 8.25 kilometers.

As stated in a disclosure form published on Jan. 5, 2016 in the Philippine Stock Exchange - Electronic Disclosure Generation Technology (PSE EDGE) portal, the expressway aims to decongest the traffic in the Osmeña and Fernan bridges. It will be built through a joint venture agreement among the City of Cebu, the municipality of Cordova, and MPTC, with its construction pegged to start in 2017 and end in 2020.

Even the Cebu-Cordova Bridge’s page in the official website of the government’s Public-Private Partnership Center states that its cooperation period spans 35 years — from 2015, or the year before Duterte assumed office, until 2050.

On June 18 — just five days before Santos published her FB post — MPTC’s Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation announced that the CCLEX is already 75% completed. The group aims to finish its construction by the end of 2021 and open it to motorists by early 2022.

The MPTC, a subsidiary of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. owned by tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, is responsible for the operation of some of the expressways in the country, including the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

VERA Files Fact Check has previously published articles debunking online posts that either incorrectly credited the Duterte government for projects which started during the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, or claimed spuriously that Aquino had no infrastructure project during his term.

Red flags in Santos’ FB page

A scan through the former PBB housemate’s verified FB page shows her posts are mostly about showbiz personalities. However, she also regularly publishes posts that laud Villar and his office’s projects.

In June 2021, for instance, Santos’ page shared eight posts about various programs of the Department of Public Works and Highways. All of these mentioned Villar’s name, either thanking or praising him.

Santos’ FB page also often shares content links from the website okayy.net. A look into the website reveals a number of red flags, casting doubts on its credibility:

  • a template Privacy Policy text shared by more than a million web pages online,
  • a template Disclaimer text used by over800,000 other websites,
  • a portion of its Disclaimer page saying the website “does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy” of the information it publishes,
  • a Contact Us page that does not contain any contact information of the website or the people behind it but instead asks for personal details of the website’s visitors, and
  • an improperly identified “aDmiN” who authored all the articles in the website.

A search in the domain database WHOIS shows okayy.net was registered as a website just last March 24.


Sources

Mark Villar official Facebook page, As of date, the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway…, June 23, 2021

Tricia Santos official Facebook page, Cebu is like a second home… (Archived), June 23, 2021

Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Duterte leads groundbreaking of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, March 3, 2017

Inquirer.net, Villar resigns as Las Piñas rep, takes on DPWH post, Aug. 2, 2016

ABS-CBN News, Mark Villar resigns from House of Representatives, Aug. 2, 2016

Rappler, Mark Villar resigns from Congress to become DPWH chief, Aug. 2, 2016

National Economic and Development Authority, Government’s Build Build Build Program Embodied in PDP 2017-2022, April 24, 2017

National Economic and Development Authority, Infrastructure Flagship Projects, June 19, 2021

Build.gov.ph, Projects, n.d.

SunStar Cebu, Review on 3rd bridge almost done, Oct. 20, 2014

Cebu Daily News, 3rd bridge in 3 years, Oct. 20, 2014

Philippine Stock Exchange - Electronic Disclosure Generation Technology, Notice of Award for Cebu Cordova Bridge Project, Jan. 5, 2016

Public-Private Partnership Center, Cebu-Cordova Toll Bridge Project (Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway), July 5, 2019

Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway construction now at 75 percent; project prepares for electronic toll system, June 18, 2021

Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, Board of Directors, n.d.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, The MPTC Group, n.d.

Pilipino Star Ngayon, Teen Housemates ni Kuya, kumpleto na!, April 14, 2010

SunStar Bacolod, Ang mga bag-ong Teen Housemates, April 11, 2010

Philippine Entertainment Portal, 15 housemates of PBB Teen Clash of 2010 introduced to the public, April 11, 2010

Okayy.net, Privacy Policy (Archived), n.d.

Okayy.net, Disclaimer (Archived), n.d.

Okayy.net, Contact Us (Archived), n.d.

WHOis.com, okayy.net Domain Information, n.d.


(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.)

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