VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Viral ‘disente vs bastos time’ photos MISLEAD; all taken under Duterte administration

Several Facebook (FB) posts showing photos of a polluted Pasig River, Manila Bay and Boracay supposedly taken during the time of the past administration and comparing them with their cleaned-up conditions under the current leadership, are misleading.

All images were shot under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June 2016.

At least four netizens and FB pages Thinking Pinoy and Duterte Social Media Supporter published on July 1 and 2 the inaccurate posts, which labeled the trash-filled photos as “disente (decent) time” and its rehabilitated looks “bastos (rude) time.”

The “disente” label ostensibly was drawn from actress Sharon Cuneta’s recent Instagram Live video where she said if Vice President Leni Robredo became president after Duterte, it “might restore decency for most of us.” Robredo is a party-mate of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.

The current administration’s supporters said in the comments section of the posts they were proud to support “bastos time.”

Pasig River

The “disente time” photo of trash collectors combing through garbage on a river was grabbed from an April 2018 album published by The Philippine Star’s FB page, nearly two years into Duterte’s term. It was taken in San Juan River, a tributary of the Pasig River.

Its “bastos time” comparison was an undated file photo by the now-defunct Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), an early copy of which can be found in an October 2018 Interaksyon report. Duterte abolished the PRRC in November 2019.

Manila Bay

The photo showing a trash-filled Manila Bay was taken in the aftermath of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut), which hit the area in September 2018. It was published by The Philippine Star.

Its “bastos time” counterpart showing a person taking a selfie on a spotless Manila Bay shore was taken from another Star article in January 2019.

This was not the first time the Ompong photo of Manila Bay was claimed to be from the time of the Aquino administration. (See: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB post MISLEADS with ‘before and after’ rehab photo of Manila Bay; both were taken under Duterte’s watch)

An iteration of the “bastos” and “disente” time comparison of Manila Bay is also currently making rounds, published by a netizen and FB page DDS Drei Nato, and amplified by MOCHA USON BLOG.

While it used the same post-Ompong image as a “desinte (sic) time” photo, a netizen’s January 2019 picture of a clean Manila Bay at sunset was used as its “bastos time” comparison.


Lastly, the “disente time” image of the algae-filled shore of Boracay was taken from ABS-CBN’s April 2018 article on the Boracay island rehabilitation.

It was juxtaposed with its “bastos time” counterpart, an aerial view of one of the island’s shorelines, taken from stock image hosting site Shutterstock. One of its earliest, un-watermarked uploads was published by blog Appreciate Goods on March 2, 2017.

Thinking Pinoy’s version of the post has been shared over 23,000 times, Duterte Social Media Supporter’s more than 5,600 times. DDS Drei Natabio’s misleading iteration of the Manila Bay post received over 41,000 shares.

The inaccurate uploads surfaced after Cuneta made her statement about “decency” on June 29.

Thinking Pinoy was created in November 2015, Duterte Social Media Supporter in October 2015, and DDS Drei Natabio in August 2016.

(This fact check was produced by a student from the University of the Philippines Diliman who is doing his internship with VERA Files.)

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

(Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect that President Rodrigo Duterte’s term began noontime of June 30, 2016. An earlier version of this story stated Duterte took office in July 2016.)