VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte DID NOT cancel classes for 2020-2021 during SONA

At least five Facebook (FB) pages published false posts claiming President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled classes for the upcoming school year during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

Duterte made no such announcement. School year 2020-2021 is still slated to begin on Aug. 24.

What the chief executive said in his 2020 SONA is that he will not “allow face-to-face teaching or learning” until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. He clarified an earlier statement where he expressed support for face-to-face classes, saying he was referring to classes resuming in January next year as he expects a vaccine by September.

FB page Freedata was among the first to post the untrue claim on July 27, hours before the president’s SONA took place. Its now-deleted post reads: “NO classes for ALL in 2020-2021. Memorandum Already signed by President Duterte According to His SONA…”

At least four other pages—Davinci Quotes, SH8T POST ツ, Fucking Feelings., and Ily—published the same spurious status update that afternoon. They have collectively garnered more than 36,000 shares and over 2,700 comments, and could have potentially reached more than 2.3 million FB users.

Many netizens, however, were quick to correct the FB pages in the comments sections and accused the pages of spreading “fake news.”

Duterte recently signed a law allowing him to reopen schools at a date later than August during a “state of emergency or state of calamity.” This was welcomed by the Department of Education (DepEd), but Education Secretary Leonor Briones has maintained, as of July 21, that classes will proceed beginning Aug. 24.

Teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers has criticized DepEd saying students were bound to suffer due to the department’s “unprepared” learning modalities under the new normal.

As of July 29, DepEd has reported over 22.2 million enrollees for the upcoming school year, or about 80 percent of last year’s enrollment.

Freedata was created on Feb. 14, Davinci Quotes on Dec. 27, 2016, SH8T POST ツ on March 25, 2019, Fucking Feelings. on July 30, 2017 and Ily on July 31, 2019.

(This fact check was produced by a student from the University of the Philippines Diliman who is doing his internship with VERA Files.)

(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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