VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Crediting Mark Villar, Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ for Cebu bridge started during Aquino’s term needs context
July 02, 2021
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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 formerPBBhousemate’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:
(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.)