VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Photo misleads; 22-year-old Marcelo Fernan Bridge NOT a Duterte project

A photo suggesting that the Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu is an infrastructure project of the Duterte administration is making the rounds on Facebook (FB). This is inaccurate.

The 1,230-meter-long bridge linking Mandaue City to Lapu-Lapu City on the island of Mactan was constructed and inaugurated during the time of former President Joseph Estrada. Named after the late former Senate President and Supreme Court chief justice Marcelo Fernan, the bridge was opned to the public in 1999.

The misleading photo was part of an album of images uploaded by FB page Viraltrends on Sept. 12, captioned “D30 bakit kaya wla to sa news (why are these not in the news)”. The album carried 28 photos of infrastructure projects that had a photo of Duterte superimposed on them, suggesting they were undertaken by the current administration.

A reverse image search revealed that the photo of the Marcelo Fernan bridge used by Viraltrends was taken by a certain Antonio “Tony” Oquias and could be found in at least three stock image websites: Alamy, iStock by Getty Images, and Adobe Stock.

Alamy states that the image was shot in January 2015. iStock says the photo was uploaded on the website in July 2015. These two only referred to the image as a “bridge in Cebu City”. Adobe Stock’s copy, meanwhile, is both undated and unnamed.

But a look at Google Street View confirmed that the bridge in Viraltrends’ post is Cebu’s Marcelo Fernan Bridge. A 360-degree photo of the bridge taken August 2016 from the Millennium Park in Lapu-Lapu City — located just below the structure — shows the same features as the one in Viraltrends’ photo.

According to an official document, there was a retrofitting activity slated for the Marcelo Fernan Bridge last year as part of the annual infrastructure program for 2020. The public works and highways department’s expenditure program for 2022 also shows an allotment of P150 million for another retrofitting project for the bridge.

The Marcelo Fernan Bridge is the second bridge to connect the main island of Cebu to the smaller Mactan Island, following the inauguration of the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge (also known as the Sergio Osmeña Bridge) in 1971.

A third bridge, the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX), is nearing completion. CCLEX was initiated in 2014 under the Aquino administration, but a groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in March 2017 and was attended by Duterte (see VERA Files Fact Check on CCLEX). It will link Cebu City to the municipality of Cordova.

Viraltrends’ Sept. 12 album already got over 46,000 reactions, 8,300 comments, and 129,000 shares from FB users. The misleading photo of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge alone has so far 14,000 reactions, 1,100 comments, and 644 shares.

The post came amid various controversies confronting the Duterte administration, including anomalies in the procurement of billion-pesos-worth of medical supplies for the government’s pandemic response (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: How did Pharmally break procurement requirements in P8.7 billion pandemic contracts with DBM?).

Viraltrends was created on Jan. 5 this year.

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

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