Fact-checked: Media counter Marcos inaugural claims

CHEERS TO several media organizations for challenging  dubious claims in President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s inaugural address. Rappler, Baguio Chronicle, News5, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and Vera Files produced necessary fact-checks and critical commentary in response to those claims.

Outlining his agenda

As a candidate, Marcos Jr.  avoided public occasions when he could speak about what he would pursue as his presidential goals. Sworn in on June 30 as the 17th President of the Philippines, he was expected to give to the people the first clear outline of his government agenda. 

The resulting speech was lauded by some for its eloquent delivery. President Marcos highlighted food sufficiency, better pandemic response, OFW welfare and new infrastructure as among the issues requiring immediate government action.  

Media counter dubious claims

Journalists nevertheless picked up on claims that were downright false in his inaugural address. By  doing fact-checks and critical analysis,  the media  countered the  lack of context and accuracy in the Marcos speech..  

  • Marcos Sr.’s achievements, legacy

President Marcos sang his late father’s praises at the inaugural. He claimed the dictator was the only president to deliver on a promise of food self-sufficiency; that he built more roads, and produced more rice than all presidents before him. He re-stated the narrative that helped him win, claiming his father sought to harness the country’s potential, and “got it done.”

  • Addressing the food sufficiency statement, Rappler’s Sofia Guanzon on a July 1 fact check pointed out that no administration has achieved total food self-sufficiency, and that in fact, the Marcos administration “brought famine, higher poverty rates, and inflation…” which affected food self-sufficiency. 
  • PCIJ’s June 30 review of the speech contested the “golden age” narrative and reminded everyone that when the Marcoses fled in 1986, the economy was  “in shambles.” The report cited academic findings confirming the Marcoses’ disinformation efforts, one “key point” being to deny their plunder of the country.
  • Ilocos windmills

President Marcos Jr.’s supporters frequently cite the Bangui windmills in Ilocos Norte as among his great achievements. These were erected in 2005, when he was governor of the province. Although he once clarified that he had nothing to do with its construction, he changed his tune in the inaugural and declared, “I built them.”

  • Rappler, PCIJ, News5, and Baguio Chronicle fact-checked this claim and deemed it false. The Bangui Bay Wind Farm was a project of a private enterprise named NorthWind Power Development Corporation.
  • Renewable energy

President Marcos, addressing dramatic increases in oil prices, said “sufficient fossil fuel-free technologies” have yet to be invented, nor were they “seriously tried by rich countries.” 

  • Rappler and PCIJ disputed this claim. Rappler recorded how advanced economies, such as Germany, Portugal, and Japan, have committed to renewable energy industries and technology. PCIJ wrote that advanced economies have shown examples of tackling greenhouse emissions, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland.
  • Biggest electoral mandate

Marcos claimed that his campaign anchored on unity “reverberated” so dramatically that it delivered the “biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”

  • VERA Files added necessary context to the claim on July 2. VERA granted that while  Marcos Jr. garnered the “highest number of votes in Philippine electoral history,” his share of the  vote is only the third highest as shown by government records.  Manuel Quezon  and Ramon Magsaysay  received higher vote percentages in 1935 and 1953, respectively. 

The inaugural speech raises concerns over how facts shall be regarded in the next six years. The eloquence in delivery and political speech craft are tools used by politicians to distract from the falsehood of their words. This early, the media should develop the habit of checking the lies that may be issued from the presidential podium.