VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizens fall for SATIRE on Robredo, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

A satirical post on Facebook (FB) is misleading netizens into believing that former Vice President Leni Robredo said opening the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) would lead to an “explosion.”

On July 17, satirical FB page Philippine Daily New Society (created on May 13) published a quote card supposedly about Robredo’s opinion on the revival of the BNPP. The quote attributed to Robredo read: “Bakit bubuksan pa ang Bataan nuclear powerplant? Sasabog lang yan, kaya nga tinawag na ‘Nuclear’, diba? Gusto niyo ba magaya tayo sa Hiroshima at Nagasaki? Para sakin kasi, napaka delikado (sic) po ng nuclear bomb.”

(Why should the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant be opened? It will only explode, which is why it’s called ‘nuclear,’ right? Do you want us to be like Hiroshima and Nagasaki? For me, a nuclear bomb is too dangerous.)

Explicitly stated at the bottom of the quote card are the phrases “Satire Only, Hindi Totoo (Not true)” and “NEWS YOU CAN’T TRUST.” The FB page’s About section has a disclaimer stating that the page is “for satire, parody, and entertainment purposes only” and is “not a source of factual information.”

Robredo never made such a statement.

In March, Robredo, who was then running for the presidency, only said she was “open” to talks on tapping nuclear energy as an alternative to coal. As to reviving the BNPP, however, the former vice president added it was vital to revisit the reason for mothballing the plant in the first place.

The operation of the BNPP was canceled by the late President Corazon Aquino in 1986, citing safety and economic issues. (Read VERA FILES FACT SHEET: A sleeping power giant, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant explained)

Most netizens, in their comments, still believed the statement to be true. Some said Robredo was “out of her wits” and that she should first think before speaking.

The satirical graphic appeared a day after a coalition of civic groups, in a 9-point People’s Agenda For Change, urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to stop the revival of the BNPP and other destructive mining practices for the conservation of the environment.

Two other FB pages –  Negrense (June 24, 2021), The wonder 2.0 (Dec. 11, 2021) – and a netizen reuploaded the satirical. Their posts have collectively garnered more than 6,400 reactions, 1,310 comments, and 600 shares.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)