VERA FILES FACT CHECK: How old is Isabelle Duterte? She’s 17, per her father’s SALNs since 2007

Read this fact check in Filipino

Following the uproar over the “pre-debut” photoshoot in Malacañang of Isabelle Duterte, Raissa Robles in a blog post suggested the presidential grandchild might only be 15 years old.

Statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) declarations by Isabelle’s father, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, show she is 17 turning 18 in January.

STATEMENT

Robles in a Dec. 17 blog post titled ‘How old is Isabelle Duterte? And why is this important?’ wrote:

I’m confused.

All the news stories regarding the photo shoot of President Rodrigo Duterte’s grand daughter Isabelle say she is turning 18 this January. Hence, her posing in four expensive designer gowns was a ‘pre-debut’ pictorial for that very important date.

Since I wasn’t exactly sure when her birthday was, I googled her age.

And this is what came out:


Source: How old is Isabelle Duterte? And why is this important? Raissa Robles: Inside Philippine politics and beyond, Dec. 17, 2017

Robles said she searched further:

So I searched some more and went to the Davao City government website where Ms. Duterte’s father Paolo is the vice mayor and her aunt Sara the mayor.

And this is what the official website of the Davao City government stated:

THAT ISABELLE DUTERTE WAS BORN ON JANUARY 26, 2002.


Which makes her only 15 years old today.

FACT

Paolo Duterte, who recently quit his post as Davao City vice mayor, has consistently stated Isabelle’s birthday as Jan. 26, 2000 in his SALN declarations since he first joined politics in 2007 as barangay captain of Catalunan Grande.

A SALN is an annual declaration filed by government employees listing their and their spouses’ assets, financial interests and liabilities.

It also asks for details about their unmarried children under 18 living in the same household; Duterte’s very first SALN in 2007 listed:

  • Omar Vicente Duterte, born Jan. 26, 1994
  • Rodrigo Duterte II, born Feb. 23, 1998
  • Isabelle Lovelle Duterte, born Jan. 26, 2000
  • Sabina Duterte, born July 15,2006

His 2016 SALN listed Isabelle, Sabina and Paolo Duterte II, born Sept. 21, 2012.

A screenshot of Duterte’s 2014 SALN, posted by journalist Gigi Grande on Twitter, shows the same date of birth for Isabelle:

The search result screenshot posted by Robles in her blog is a “featured snippet,” a Google feature which aims to provide more convenience to users by immediately providing succinct answers to queries, extracting these programmatically from websites.

Yet featured snippets are not always reliable:

“Like all search results, featured snippets reflect the views or opinion of the site from which we extract the snippet, not that of Google. We are always working to improve our ability to detect the most useful snippet, so the results you see may change over time.”

Source: Featured snippets in search, Google Support

News website Vox has an interesting video explaining the problems with featured snippets.

As of writing, Google still yields the same snippet on Isabelle Duterte’s age, which could have been extracted from the same Davao City government web page itself Robles quoted.

Sources:

Raissa Robles: Inside Philippine politics and beyond, How old is Isabelle Duterte? And why is this important?, Dec. 17, 2017

Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, 2007-2016

Google Support, Featured snippets in search

Vox, How Google's featured answers can go terribly wrong

Davao City government website, Vice Mayor Paolo Z. Duterte Profile

(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.)

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