VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Nueva Ecija governor DID NOT say Manila Bay rehab is ‘alarming’

A viral online post claiming Nueva Ecija Governor Czarina Umali criticized the Manila Bay clean-up effort is fake news.

The post, published by Facebook page NE Patrol on Jan. 30, manipulated an August 2014 photo of Umali, then-third district representative of the province.

The logo of her program, “Malasakit pasa sa Novo Ecijano” was added to the original image with this quote:

Bilang susunod na kongresista, ang komento ko sa Manila Bay clean-up ay nakakabahala ito sa part ng mga taong umaasa sa basura ng Manila Bay bilang kanilang kabuhayan. Hindi natin alam kung ano na ang mangyayari sa kanila ‘pag nawala na ang basura sa lugar. Sana ay pag-isipan itong mabuti.

(As your next congresswoman, my comment on the Manila Bay clean-up is that it is alarming on the part of the people who rely on the Manila Bay’s garbage for their livelihood. We don’t know what would happen to them once the trash in the area is gone. I hope they think about this carefully.)”

The statement was attributed to Umali who was also described as “running for NE 3rd district representative.”

NE Patrol’s post is fabricated; no news report or any official record tags Umali as the source of the pronouncement.

The Office of the Governor has also said the statement is untrue. Umali’s Chief of Staff Ricky Velasco told VERA Files through online correspondence:

“The governor vehemently denies that she has made such statement. Governor Czarina Umali knows that Manila Bay is not part of Nueva Ecija and therefore does not intend to issue a statement appertaining to the same.”

Source: Provincial Government of Nueva Ecija Facebook Messenger, Feb. 6, 2019

The governor is running in the upcoming midterm elections in May, seeking to return as third district representative of the province.

The fake post was published three days after the rehabilitation of Manila Bay began on Jan. 27. The move follows a verbal directive by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier in January for the bay to undergo a major cleanup.

NE Patrol’s fake post has been shared over 2,300 times, and could have reached over 13,000 people, despite having only 283 followers on its page. Traffic to the story largely came from the page “PRESIDENT DUTERTE is FREEDOM” (DEFEND the President Movement). NE Patrol was created Jan. 8, about three weeks before it published the fake post.

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

(VERA Files is a part of, a collaborative fact-checking initiative by the academe and the media for the 2019 Philippine midterm elections.)