VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Report on Duterte gov't keeping foreign aid MISLEADING

An online article misleads readers by twisting the headline and lead paragraph of a legitimate news report on the Commission on Audit’s (COA) findings on the government’s utilization of foreign assistance in 2017.

Published Sept. 19, the article bore the headline, “State Auditors discover Duterte admin keeping 99.6 % of foreign aid” and said in its lead that COA “was alarmed” over the low spending of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans. It then copied five of 17 paragraphs of a GMA News Online report.

Nowhere in the original GMA article was it stated that the administration was “keeping” 99.6 percent of the fund, or that COA was “alarmed” at the findings.

The article said COA flagged the Duterte administration as it only utilized P299.75 million of the P74.55 billion ODA loans in 2017. With 99.6 percent of the funds still not withdrawn, 17 government projects may not be completed within the load period. More, it has “forced the government to pay commitment fees worth more than P230.17 million for the delayed availment of loans.”

ODA, or foreign aid, is provided by donor governments through official agencies to help spur economic development in recipient countries. It includes both grants and concessional loans with more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates and longer grace periods, compared with market loans.

No other legitimate news organization reflected’s claim.

The misleading report could have reached at least 600,000 people. Its top generators include Facebook pages Thinking Class of the Philippines, ANG BAYAN KO, and Modernize the Philippines., which describes itself as “a news blog that covers essential people, visions, performances, and ideas that increase the collective adjacent possible of humanity,” was created April 13, 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.)


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