VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizens revive UNPROVEN Marcos comment on mothballed nuclear power plant

Netizens have revived a misleading quote attributed to former president Ferdinand Marcos about the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) just days after the Duterte government ordered a study on the viability of nuclear power for the country’s energy needs.

A reader requested VERA Files Fact Check to verify a post where the late strongman allegedly pleaded with his successor, Corazon Aquino, to operate the mothballed nuclear power project but was rejected, as people “will remember Marcos so long as the nuclear power plant exists.”

This unsubstantiated quote, allegedly uttered by Marcos in 1987 while in exile in Hawaii, has been used and reused in online posts for many years. Its latest revival was on Aug. 7 and 8, just a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order mandating the creation of a Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee that would look into the feasibility of introducing nuclear power into the State’s energy mix.

The viral quote card featured a 1986 Agence France-Presse photo of Marcos. Another variation of the graphic carrying a different image was flagged by VERA Files Fact Check in August 2018. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos admonishing Cory on Bataan nuclear power plant UNPROVEN)

There are no official records or reports by any legitimate media organization worldwide that the ousted leader ever made that comment.

A keyword search shows the baseless statement has been used in blogs since 2011. It gained traction on Facebook (FB) in 2012 through page Stunning and Interesting facts you didn’t know. According to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, the baseless quote has been circulating on FB consistently from 2014, and has experienced peaks in interactions every so often.

The $2.3 billion nuclear plant in Bataan province, west of Manila, had been hounded by corruption allegations and safety issues. A 2015 Official Gazette article described it as “the largest and most expensive construction project in the country’s history.”

These controversies — topped off by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine which caused massive health and environmental issues — pushed the Aquino administration to mothball the BNPP in 1986.

Two posts carrying the quote card have been garnering the most traction from social media users in the past week.

One is a 2016 post by FB page Mang Huseng Batute, which edited its former caption, “This was the last message of former Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. to Cory Cojuangco- Aquino” to include the phrase “TRUTH OR FALSE?. It has received over 12,000 reactions, 3,100 comments, and 27,000 shares since it was published four years ago.

The other viral post was made by FB user Even Demata in his personal account on Aug. 8 and was shared the same day by a page named after him. The first post has already been shared over 4,000 times, with around 4,600 reactions and 500 comments.

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