VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB post claiming Duterte is ‘best’ world leader uses MISLEADING data

A May 25 Facebook (FB) post that states President Rodrigo Duterte is the “best” out of “a whole lotta leaders on this planet,” is misleading.

To support its claim, the FB upload —published by a self-proclaimed Duterte supporter — erroneously compared approval ratings of 10 world leaders, including the Philippine president, based on surveys conducted by different polling agencies and in different time periods.

The FB post also manipulated some of the dates to make it look recent.

In the post, Duterte was shown topping the list with a 91% rating, citing a Pulse Asia survey last year. The local polling body did record this figure in its September 2020 Ulat ng Bayan survey.

The nationwide survey of 1,200 Filipino adults showed Duterte hitting record-high approval rating amid the pandemic. But using this to rate him the best among the world leaders may not be accurate because different research firms have varied methods and rubrics to measure approval ratings.

The rankings of Duterte’s counterparts in the FB post were shown as follows: Germany’s Angela Merkel (79%), Canada’s Justin Trudeau (74%), Italy’s Giuseppe Conte (71%), Russia’s Vladimir Putin (65%), India’s Narendra Modi (63%), the United States’s Joe Biden (57%), Britain’s Boris Johnson (52%), France’s Emmanuel Macron (51%), and Japan’s Yoshihide Suga (31%).

A cursory search on Google shows that the misleading FB post’s details of the rankings of Merkel, Trudeau, Conte, Johnson and Macron, were copied from an April 2020 Forbes article.

Its dates were altered to make it look like the data was from 2021.

Suga, Japan’s prime minister, did get a 31%-approval rating from a survey conducted May 22 by the newspaper Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center.

Claims on Biden’s, Putin’s, and Modi’s ratings likewise match up with the cited sources in the FB post.

The netizen’s misleading post received more than 1,100 reactions, 130 comments, and 400 shares. It emerged as Duterte’s weekly Talk to the People address was twice-postponed, from May 24 to May 25, and later to May 26.

The inaccurate FB post was reposted in partisan FB pages Friends of Sara Duterte, Bayan Ko Ph, and Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte 2022, as well as in pro-Duterte public group Rody Duterte Solid(Duterte-Duterte2022).

(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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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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