Claim: “Not a single centavo” was spent on the Intelligence Operations Center (IOC) of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
This claim was made by the blog asianpolicy.press in a September 13 post, “Duterte utilizes new state-of-the-art command center to deal with Ompong’s onslaught.” This was published around Typhoon Ompong’s landfall on September 15.
The blog said that no public funds were used in the construction of the facility. Only donations from SMSGT Inc, a telecommunications service provider, and other “foreign partners” were used.
The post was shared 20 times in different Facebook pages and groups, all of which accounted for a total of 3,281,134 followers and 38,117 interactions as of September 26.
The facts: Initially announced as a project that wouldn’t use taxpayers’ money, the construction of the NDRRMC IOC was eventually funded through the national budget.
In a Rappler article published in 2014, then-defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin was quoted as saying “not a single cent” would be used in the construction of the facility. This was also mentioned in an Inquirer article. These articles seemed to be the reference of the asianpolicy.press post.
However, things have changed between 2014 and 2018, as the IOC was being built.
The project was later listed in the 2016 General Appropriations Act, under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the 2nd District Engineering Office of Quezon City.
The total allotment for the facility was P58,525,000. Like every department, operational and implementing funds of the DPWH come from taxpayers’ money.
When references to Gazmin’s claim circulated during Typhoon Ompong, former NDRRMC executive director Alexander Pama refuted it in a Facebook post on September 17.
According to Pama – who was Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator when the IOC was built – “the DPWH provided 60 million pesos from its 2015 budget to build this.”
Pama also said the OCD and SMSGT Incorporated, the company that was supposed to donate the facility, provided the furniture and equipment instead.
In addition, the photos used in the asianpolicy.press blog post were pre-construction perspectives of the facility, as published in a 2014 Inquirer report, and the actual command center in use during a conference with President Rodrigo Duterte and Cabinet members on September 13, before Typhoon Ompong’s landfall.
Facebook page “Balitang Totoo” posted the pre-construction perspectives and actual photos without distinguishing between the two. Its Facebook post was shared at least 24,000 times.
The Asian Policy has been posting content critical of the opposition and heralding supposed achievements of the Duterte administration. As of September 27, its most popular post is about Senator Antonio Trillanes IV supposedly hearing and seeing “strange” things around him.
In its Terms and Conditions section, the page says that the blog owner “will not be held liable” for wrong information and the damage that it could cause. There are also no company profile, contact information, nor an editorial board – similar to dubious blogs Rappler has checked. – Miguel Imperial/Rappler.com
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