VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Photo of MMDA enforcers breaking rules is 3 YEARS AGO

A 2017 photo of two Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcers aboard a motorcycle is deceiving netizens into thinking it was taken while the National Capital Region remains under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to COVID-19.

In the comments section of at least two Facebook (FB) posts, people expressed their disappointment with the two, calling them “shameless” and “lawbreakers” for supposedly violating road rules and community quarantine protocols — not wearing a face mask, helmet and “back riding.” Only a few pointed out that the photo is almost three years old and not taken during the pandemic where certain guidelines such as social distancing are in place.

A June 2017 press release posted on the MMDA’s official FB page says the two enforcers were already “severely reprimanded” for violating the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009. They were fined with P1,500 each and directed to undergo a traffic management and safety course.

However, the viral photo has been republished on social media every year after that incident, misleading netizens.

On May 24, Facebook page Jm fernandez reuploaded the photo with no caption. That same day, a netizen shared the post to public FB group Tulfo Brothers Worldwide, this time bearing the caption:

“Pwedi sa Kanila magka angkas,No helmet,No facemask…baka Wala pa driver’s license Yan at unregistered ang motor (They are allowed to share a ride with another person, no helmet, no facemask… maybe they also don’t have a driver’s license, and their motorcycle is unregistered).”

Included in the omnibus guidelines on the implementation of the MECQ is the rule that “minimum public health standards” — including wearing of masks and observance of social distancing — “shall be complied with at all times for the duration of the MECQ.” Metro Manila, Cebu city and Laguna province were placed under MECQ on May 16 after an extreme community quarantine over Luzon from March 16 to May 15 was eased.

The reposting of the MMDA enforcers’ photo came a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed calls for the dismissal of National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Major Gen. Debold Sinas for violating quarantine rules.

Sinas made the headlines earlier this month after photos showing a May 8 gathering in Camp Bagong Diwa to celebrate his birthday went viral on social media. Mass gatherings are prohibited under community quarantine guidelines.

Jm fernandez’ uncaptioned repost of the photo already got more than a thousand shares on FB, while its reshare in public group Tulfo Brothers Worldwide has already accumulated around 1,400 reactions, 600 comments, and over 700 shares.

FB page Jm fernandez was created in October 2015, while Tulfo Brothers Worldwide was made in June 2018.

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