FACT CHECK: Misleading Aquino-Duterte comparison in ‘pro-Roxas’ page


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FACT CHECK: Misleading Aquino-Duterte comparison in ‘pro-Roxas’ page
The figures listed in a graphic posted by the Facebook page "Oras Na, Roxas Na" make it appear they cover Aquino's entire 6-year term and Duterte's first two years. The amounts are from the 2016 and 2017 national budgets only.

Claim: The Facebook page Oras Na, Roxas Na posted a graphic comparing some expenses in the national budget under the administrations of ex-president Benigno Aquino III and current President Rodrigo Duterte.

The graphic – accompanied by the caption “6 years of #PNoy vs. 2 years of #Hell” on the Facebook post – stated that Duterte had budgeted P17.9 billion for 6 items: representation expenses, intelligence funds, professional services or consultancy, rent expenses, communications expenses, and travel fund.

This was supposedly in contrast with a total of only P1.1 billion for the same items during Aquino’s term.

The graphic was posted on May 23 on the Oras Na, Roxas Na page, which supports former interior secretary and 2016 presidential candidate Mar Roxas. As of this posting, it has received over 2,600 reactions and over 770 comments, and was shared over 3,290 times.

Rating: MIXED

The facts: While there was indeed a significant increase in the budget for the indicated items during Duterte’s term, the Facebook post caption and the graphic itself are misleading. 

The caption makes readers believe that the numbers listed under “Aquino” in the graphic were for his entire 6-year term, while those listed under “Duterte” were for his two years in office so far.

The graphic itself does not contain any reference to a year or time period. There’s no office or agency named in the graphic either. 

But the figures it lists are similar to amounts in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the national budget in 2016 , the last one passed under Aquino, and in the 2017 national budget, the first one passed under Duterte. The amounts refer to 6 expenditure items under the Office of the President (OP). 

The graphic got its figures for the “intelligence fund” item wrong. In the 2016 GAA, intel funds under the OP only amounted to P250 million, not P500 million as stated in the graphic. In the 2017 GAA, the budget for intelligence fund only amounted to P1.25 billion, not P2.5 billion as stated in the graphic. 

However, the sum of intelligence and confidential funds is P500 million for 2016, and P2.5 billion for 2017. The OP under Duterte also got another P1.25 billion for intel funds in 2018. (READ: Are Duterte’s multi-million-peso intel funds achieving their purpose?)

Below would have been an accurate version of the Oras Na Roxas Na’s graphic, with appropriate labels for each item under specific budget years of the OP. Still, this version reflects a huge increase in expenses for these 6 items in Duterte’s first year from Aquino’s last year: 

Expense item under OP Aquino (2016) Duterte (2017)
Representation expenses 139.34 million 7.55 billion
Intelligence expenses  250.00 million 1.25 billion 
Professional services 78.95 million  2.11 billion 
Rent/lease expenses 48.95 million  2.33 billion 
Communication expenses 23.89 million 1.32 billion 
Travelling expenses  313.19 million  2.13 billion
TOTAL  P854.32 million  P16.69 billion

If confidential expenses were included in this table, the totals would be P1.10 billion for Aquino in 2016 and P17.94 billion for Duterte in 2017, similar to the totals listed in the graphic.

Malacañang explained that the big spike was due to expenses related to the country’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits in April 2017 and in November 2017.

Meanwhile, it is improper to compare budgets for different lengths of time: Aquino’s 6 years with Duterte’s two years.

Below is a graph showing the amounts for each of the 6 expense items per year from 2011 to 2018, based on available budget documents. We combined the confidential and intelligence funds in all years because both were lumped into only one expense item in 2011 and 2012.

Then here are the totals for Aquino’s first two years, his last two years, and his entire 6-year term (just for the sake of Oras Na Roxas Na’s argument) versus Duterte’s first two years so far.

The table shows that in the national budgets passed during his 6 years in office, Aquino allotted a total of P7.4 billion for the 6 items specified in the graphic. Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

If you suspect a Facebook page, group, account, a website, or an article is spreading false information, let Rappler know by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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