VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Phivolcs ‘prediction’ on possible killer quakes in Mindanao FAKE


A day after an earthquake struck Davao de Oro, several Facebook (FB) users revived a fake announcement allegedly from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) stating that a “high-magnitude” earthquake may hit Cagayan de Oro or Tagoloan municipality in Misamis Oriental.

The fabricated advisory made the rounds online on March 8, with one FB post getting over 8.6 million recent views. Part of the text read:

“PHIVOLCS Regional Director said in an interview over a local radio station that it is possible for CDO or Tagoloan to be the epicenter of a high-magnitude quake because of the active fault line in CDO and Tagoloan river. A 7.2 magnitude quake could trigger a tsunami that could reach a 15-storey building. He advised to study our surroundings for a possible evacuation route.”

The text further claimed that some of the active fault lines in Mindanao can produce a magnitude 8 earthquake and “thousands” of aftershocks, supposedly “proven” by veteran seismologists.

Phivolcs has long disowned the statement and called it “fake news.” It issued an advisory on FB in April 2022, when the claim first circulated.

According to Phivolcs, while earthquakes may occur in places along active fault lines and trenches in Mindanao, it cannot be predicted.

“There is no technology yet in the entire world that can predict when and where [earthquakes] will specifically occur,” it said in Filipino.

Phivolcs discouraged the public from spreading the fake message and instead stressed the importance of having accurate information and adequate preparation for earthquakes.

Phivolcs detected two 5.9 and 5.6 magnitude earthquakes rocking Davao de Oro on March 7. A series of light to moderate tremors is still hitting the area on March 8 according to the institute’s earthquake tracker.

Social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle detected at least 13 FB groups and pages, including FB page PITIK NI Davsky (created on Aug. 15, 2021), spreading the fake statement. At least 71 netizens revived the same message according to a cursory search on FB.

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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.)