VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Story about Mayor Isko ‘dressing down’ Bishop Pabillo bears FALSE HEADLINE

Website Online Confessions ( published a story on Sept. 15 falsely claiming in its headline that Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso rebuked Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillio after the cleric commented on the government’s move to lay “white sand” on Manila Bay.

It read: “Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Binara Ni Yorme Isko Dahil Gustong Ipatigil Ang White Sand Project Sa Manila Bay (Bishop Broderick Pabillo admonished by Mayor Isko because he wants Manila Bay white sand project stopped).”

Online Confessions sewed together two unrelated statements from Moreno and Pabillo in its story to support the false claim.

Moreno’s supposed comment was from his Sept. 4 press conference, where he said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has a better understanding of whether or not the material dumped on Manila Bay—pulverized dolomite—has environmental risks. He did not mention or allude to Pabillo.

“I think DENR is in the right position to know it better than me, na ito’y makapaminsala sapagkat sila naman ang talagang itinalaga ng batas na mangalaga sa ating kapaligiran (that it will cause harm because they were tasked by the law to protect our environment),” Moreno said.

The post also carried News5’s Sept. 9 quote card of the above statement.

Pabillo’s statement, on the other hand, was from a Radyo Veritas interview on Sept. 6, two days after the Manila mayor’s press conference.

News reports on Pabillo’s statement do not show him referencing Moreno. What he did say was that the government’s P300-million project to beautify Manila Bay with white sand “appears to be ill-timed” amid joblessness and hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the project’s funds could have been better used.

The misleading article now leads to an Error 404 page when opened, but continues to circulate on FB. Apart from the two statements, the report was laced with screengrabs of comments showing Facebook users attacking Pabillo for his statement.

Online Confessions’ misleading article was published two days after a congressman called the white sand project on Manila Bay “a complete waste of public funds” supposedly because the material will get washed out by a storm surge. On Sept. 19, DENR opened the artificial beach to the public.

Possibly reaching over 7.2 million netizens, traffic to the Online Confessions’ report largely came from FB pages PHILIPPINE FEDERAL MOVEMENT INTERNATIONAL and Latest Duterte News and ERWIN TULFO supporters. The website was created on Dec. 14, 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.)