FALSE: Photo of Duterte doing the rounds during coronavirus pandemic

FALSE: Photo of Duterte doing the rounds during coronavirus pandemic
The photo was taken when the President visited Marawi City in August 2017 during the months-long siege there

Claim: A photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte, along with Senator Bong Go, doing the rounds during the coronavirus pandemic in the country. 

Facebook user Yer Ulbata shared the photo in the Facebook group Filipino Post on April 19, and wrote that Duterte was “going around” to ensure the safety of Filipinos, compared to critics who keep on complaining about the government’s response to the outbreak. 

Habang ang iba daldal ng daldal batikos ng batikos sa gobyerno yung presidenteng 74 years old na mahina ang katwan at immune system na mas prone sa virus na maari nyang ikamatay pag tinamaan siya, ayun nag iikot at sinisigurado ang seguridad nating mga Pilipino,” said the post. “Mas pinili niya mag ikot sa ground kesa matulog sa aircon na palasyo ng malacañang at mag antay ng update o balita sa mga tao nya.” 

(While others keep on criticizing, the President – who’s 74 years old with a weak body and immune system, and more prone to the virus which could kill him if he gets infected – is going around to ensure the safety us Filipinos. He chose to be on the ground instead of sleeping in the air-conditioned Malacañang Palace and just wait for updates from officials.)

The post has been shared 21,000 times and has received at least 36,000 reactions and 1,800 comments as of writing.

The post was flagged by Facebook’s Claim Check dashboard for verification.

Rating: FALSE 

The facts: The photo of Duterte and Go used in the post was taken in August 2017, when both officials visited Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, for the 3rd time in the middle of clashes there between government troops and local terrorists linked to the Islamic State.

A reverse Google Image Search using the photo in the claim also points to Duterte’s Marawi visit as reported by News5. The original photo was credited to Go, when he was still special assistant to the President.

Screenshot of News5's Facebook post on August 24, 2017 that includes the photo in the claim

As for the claim that Duterte is “doing the rounds” during the coronavirus pandemic, he had a surprise inspection of checkpoints in northern Metro Manila at the start of the Luzon-wide lockdown on March 17. Since then, his public appearances had been limited due to physical distancing measures intended to stem the spread of the outbreak.

As early as March, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) implemented a “no-touch policy” between Duterte and the public. The PSG later put in place stricter protocols in allowing access to Duterte in Malacañang. 

All persons going near Duterte and those who would be in the event area where the President is present are required to undergo rapid coronavirus tests. Those covered by these guidelines include high-ranking government officials, PSG troopers, and close-in personnel who always accompany the President.

Duterte also reportedly went into self-quarantine from late March until April 7, after he was exposed to some government officials who either tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to another positive case. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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