VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Ex-CFO chief MISLEADS with wrong figures on Marawi rehab aid

Former Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) chairperson Imelda Nicolas recently posted a misleading infographic about the amount of foreign aid the country has received for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.


On Oct. 26, Nicolas posted on Facebook an infographic illustrating the “Foreign Aid Received for Marawi Rehabilitation.” It listed the following countries and multinational bodies and their corresponding grants:

Australia – US$ 1 billion
United States – US$ 785 million
United Nations – US$ 3 billion
Japan – US$ 600 million
Thailand – US$ 50 million
China – US$ 2 million
European Union – US$ 1.5 billion

Source: Imelda Nicolas’ Facebook page, Oct. 26, 2018

In her post, Nicolas questioned how the Marawi rehabilitation funds coming from outside the country are being used, with the photo also bearing the text, “Nasaan ang Marawi fund??? (Where is the Marawi fund???)” in bold, yellow letters.


Several news reports, government records and statements from embassies of the nations involved show foreign aid for Marawi has not reached “hundreds of millions” and “billions” of US dollars from each of the nations mentioned, contrary to Nicolas’ post.

Below are the actual amounts of aid the five countries, EU and UN have extended for Marawi.




Nicolas’ claim


P975 million as of Oct. 26

$17.7 million

$1 billion

United States

P3.2 billion as of Oct. 16

$59.1 million

$785 million

United Nations

P406 million as of Oct. 11

$7.5 million

$3 billion


P970 million as of May 15

$18.66 million

$600 million


P100 million as of Sept. 15, 2017

$1.96 million

$50 million


P1.15 billion as of Nov.15, 2017

$23 million

$2 million

European Union

P49 million as of July 4, 2017


$1.5 billion

The misleading infographic is actually a manipulated image from a 2017 Philstar report on foreign aid received for Marawi’s rehabilitation.

Nicolas’ post surfaced a week after Marawi residents protested on Oct. 16 the long-delayed rehabilitation of their city and just days before national and local officials officially launched the rehabilitation project. It broke ground on Oct. 30, a little over a year after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Islamic city free from the terrorist Maute group.

The ex-CFO chief’s post containing misleading information has been shared by over 750 people.


Australian Embassy in the Philippines, “Australia increases support to PHP 975 million for Marawi recovery,” Oct. 26, 2018

CNN Philippines, “China to donate ₱1-B for Marawi rehab, signs 14 deals with PH,” Nov. 16, 2017

Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, “Philippines: EU provides € 850 000 to support victims of Marawi crisis,” July 4, 2017

Department of Finance, “Japan formalizes 2-billion yen grant for Marawi rehab,” May 15, 2018, “Philippine-China ties as warm as Manila weather – Li,” Nov. 15, 2017

Presidential Communications Operations Office, “Mindanao Hour Briefing by PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan with Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Department of National Defense,” Sept. 15, 2017, “Liberation sa Marawi,” Oct. 17, 2017

The Diplomat, “Chinese Premier: China-Philippines Relations as Warm as Manila’s Weather,” Nov. 16, 2017

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Philippines, “Philippines: United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Chief calls for continued humanitarian support to the people of Marawi,” Oct. 11, 2018

U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, “Ambassador Kim Announces Php1.35 billion Marawi Response Project,” Oct. 16, 2018

(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.)