FALSE: Photo shows cleaned up Pasig River during Duterte’s term


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The photo was posted in 2011, years before Duterte was elected president

Photos show the state of the Pasig River during the terms of former president Benigno Aquino III and President Rodrigo Duterte, with an apparent improvement during Duterte’s administration.

Facebook users posted a graphic with two photos of the Pasig River, respectively tagged as images from the “Aquino Term” and the “Duterte Term.”

The photo supposedly from Aquino’s term is also labeled “panahon ng disente (decent times)” while the one claimed to be from Duterte’s term is labeled “panahon ng bastos (indecent times).” The graphic implied that even if the president is “indecent,” the state of the country today is better than what it was during the term of a “decent” president. 

This claim was sent to Rappler for verification. It was also flagged by Facebook Claim Check, the platform’s tool for detecting dubious content.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The two photos were taken in 2011, years before Duterte was elected president.

Using reverse image search, the first photo was traced to a video uploaded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on May 23, 2011. It depicted the Estero de Paco, a natural tributary of the Pasig River.

“Pasig’s Estero de Paco looked like this less than a year ago,” the video narrated while the photo was shown.

This claim was also fact-checked by Agence France-Presse, which cited another ADB report as the source of the two photos. The report, which was also posted on May 23, 2011, said, “A massive cleanup in Estero de Paco, an estuary of Manila’s Pasig River, was conducted. Concrete embankments have been built and running water and septic tanks installed.”

Both photos were also used in a Rappler article published in September 2012, attributing them to the now-defunct Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

Earlier, Rappler also debunked “before and after” photos of Boracay, a claim that also used the terms “disente (decent) time” and “bastos (indecent) time”. The photo supposedly from Aquino’s term was actually taken in 2018, during the Duterte administration. – Loreben Tuquero/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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