FALSE: Philippines first to impose lockdown in Asia – Duterte

Claim: In his televised evening address on Thursday, April 16, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines was the first to impose a lockdown in Asia amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kasi kung hindi ko ni-lockdown ang Pilipinas, naku… Nakita mo ‘yung mga bansa na, you know, hindi naman – I don’t know if it’s…But dito, tayo ang nauna sa Asia. Tayo talaga ang nauna sa Asia. Maybe, hindi naman ako nagyayabang, maybe because I was really – talagang kinumpleto ko ‘yung pagka-mayor ko para maalagaan ko kayo,” Duterte said.

(Because if I did not put the Philippines on lockdown, well you’ve seen the other countries. But here, we were the first in Asia. We were really the first in Asia. Not that I’m boasting, but maybe it was because I really acted as a mayor so I could take care of all of you.)

The President also made the same claim in his earlier address on April 8. He said, “Ito nakikita ko na noon pa. Itong COVID na ito, sinusundan ko talaga ‘yan. Kasi sinasabi come johnny – ah come-Jimmy-lately [Johnny-come-lately] – hindi ho – ako ang pinakaunang lahat nag-lockdown kasi nasusundan ko na ang istorya.”

(I’ve seen this way before. I’ve been following this COVID-19 from the start. I wasn’t a Johnny-come-lately – I was the first one to impose a lockdown because I was able to track the story.)

Rating: FALSE

The facts: Several countries in Asia enforced lockdowns and community quarantines before the Philippines put Metro Manila on lockdown on March 15, and the entire Luzon on March 17.

China imposed a lockdown on January 23 in the city of Wuhan, where the first case of the novel coronavirus was recorded in December 2019. It was later expanded to Hubei province. China started lifting restrictions on people's movements in Hubei on March 25 except in Wuhan. The lockdown on Wuhan was lifted on April 7. (READ: Wuhan virus lockdown over, but lingering fears slow recovery)

Other Asian countries were also quicker to impose lockdowns than the Philippines. Mongolia imposed a lockdown on March 10 in its capital Ulaanbataar and other cities after the nation’s first case was reported. Likewise, Vietnam put the Son Loi farming region on lockdown on February 13, only after 6 cases of the coronavirus were discovered there.

In contrast, when Duterte declared the Metro Manila lockdown on March 15, the country already had 140 confirmed cases and 12 deaths. 93 cases were reported in Metro Manila on March 15. (READ: Where are the coronavirus cases in Metro Manila?)

This is not the first time Duterte made a false statement in public speeches and press briefings related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On April 6, he also falsely claimed that he warned about the coronavirus threat “at the start.” But even after the first coronavirus death outside China was recorded in the Philippines, the President downplayed the issue and said “it will just die a natural death.” – Pauline Macaraeg/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.