VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte makes 3 wrong claims in Valenzuela speech

In a speech on March 4 that lasted less than 13 minutes, President Rodrigo Duterte made at least three false claims during the inauguration of new school buildings at the Lawang Bato National High School (LBNHS) and Canumay East National High School (CENHS) in Valenzuela City.

We checked each of those:

On whether Valenzuela is still part of Bulacan


“My partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, taga-Valenzuela, Bulacan po siya (she’s from Valenzuela, Bulacan). Kaya (That’s why) when we were campaigning and I was asking what is the immediate need of the constituency here in Bulacan, Valenzuela, and they said, ‘more schools because of a growing population.’ And it makes me happy to go back and see the fulfillment of that promise to the people of Valenzuela, Bulacan.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Simultaneous Inauguration of School Buildings at the Canumay East National High School (CENHS) and Lawang Bato National High School (LBNHS) in Valenzuela City, March 4, 2021, watch from 0:21 to 1:11


Valenzuela City is one of the 16 cities and one municipality comprising Metropolitan Manila, the National Capital Region. It ceased to be a part of Bulacan province in November 1975 when the Metropolitan Manila Commission (MMC) was created.

Then president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. issued Presidential Decree No. 824, restructuring what was then the municipality of Valenzuela — along with four cities (Manila, Quezon, Caloocan, and Pasay) and 12 other municipalities — as part of a newly established “public corporation” called Metropolitan Manila.

The decree “led to the separation of the Municipality of Valenzuela from the Province of Bulacan,” according to the city’s history posted on its official website.

The MMC, which was created to manage Metro Manila, was abolished in January 1990 through Executive Order No. 392 and its powers and functions were “devolved” to the Metropolitan Manila Authority, created by then president Corazon Aquino. The MMA was renamed in 1995 through Republic Act 7924 as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Valenzuela was declared a highly urbanized city (HUC) in 1988 by then president Fidel V. Ramos through RA 8526.

On when the school buildings began construction


[A]ng tagal eh (It took a long time) — the time needed to construct. Ito kakatapos lang (This one had just been finished). I remember it was 2016, I was not yet the president.”

Source: watch from 3:42 to 3:58


The newly inaugurated school buildings in LBNHS, the venue for Duterte’s speech, and CENHS were greenlit for construction in September 2019, or three years well into his term as president.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) issued a “notice to proceed” to the contractors of the buildings in the two high schools on the following dates, based on the department’s procurement database:

The issuance of a “notice to proceed” is the 14th and final step before the actual construction of infrastructure projects of the national government. The projects were funded under the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

On the country’s credit rating


“We were doing fine. Our rating is ‘BBB;’ next to that is ‘A’…”

Source: watch from 5:09 to 5:17


While he did not specify his source, the president’s claim does not match the scales of the world’s top three credit rating agencies.

Credit rating is an “opinion that provides a measure of credit quality.” It is a “grading system” that “focuses on the capability and willingness” of a borrower to settle its obligations upon maturity, according to the local credit rating agency Philippine Rating Services Corporation (PhilRatings).

Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s (S&P;) Global Ratings, and Moody’s rate different agencies, including sovereign governments, in the form of letter grades to identify credit worthiness. “AAA” ratings for Fitch and S&P;, and “Aaa” for Moody’s are considered the highest ratings, indicating the lowest risk.

The Philippines’ current rating is at “BBB” for Fitch’s long-term credit rating scale (as of Jan. 10, 2021), and “BBB+” for S&P;’s (as of May 29, 2020). Both are still a couple of notches below the “A” rating.

As for Moody’s, the country is at “Baa2” as of July 16, 2020 — two notches below its “A3” rating (the lowest “A” rating).

Duterte made a similar false claim in May 2019, when he said the country’s “BBB+” credit rating was “close to equalling” those of the United States and Japan. (See VERA Files FACT CHECK: Duterte exaggerates Philippines’ creditworthiness)


PTV Philippines Official Facebook Page, WATCH: President Rodrigo Roa #Duterte attends the inauguration of the school buildings at the Canumay East National High School and Lawang Bato National High School, March 4, 2021

On Valenzuela being a part of Bulacan

On the construction of new school buildings in LBNHS, CENHS

On PH’s credit ratings


(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.)