FACT CHECK: Vlogger’s ‘political reflections’ over a viral photo on first day of class are misleading

Aug. 31, 2022

Photo: Lisa Marie David/Reuters

CLAIM: A Facebook video by NDMstudios suggested that the trending photo from Pampanga province which showed grade school students and their teacher spending the first day of face-to-face classes in a flooded classroom last August 22 might only be a “propaganda” against Vice President Sara Duterte.

Appearing in the “Political Reflections by NjeldeMesa” video uploaded last August 25 is Njel de Mesa, a musician-producer who was also a part of the electoral campaign of VP Duterte.

He said: “Nag-message ang isa kong kaibigan na kilala, nagsusumbong patungkol sa larawang ito. Sabi raw ng kaibigan niyang guro na taga Macabebe, Pampanga, naatasan silang magkaroon ng photo op nitong mga batang mag-aaral na nasa bahaan bilang protesta at para na rin makakuha ng simpatya mula sa taong bayan.”

(A famous friend messaged me and complained about the said photo. He/she told me that his/her friend who’s a teacher from Macabebe, Pampanga said they were tasked to have a photo op with the pupils in the flooded classroom as a form of protest and to solicit sympathy from the people.)

De Mesa suggested that if such claim is true, the school “must be investigated to know who’s behind it”.

“Tila may mga puwersang nais sumira sa kredibilidad ng ating butihing Bise Presidente,” he said. (It seems there are forces who want to damage the credibility of our good vice president)

VP Duterte is also the concurrent Education Secretary. De Mesa then proceeded to take a swipe at former Vice President Leni Robredo.

As of August 30, his video accumulated over 16K reactions, 1.9K comments, and 245K views. His segment has 253.8K followers.


FACTS: The viral photo is one of the scenes during the first day of in-person classes last August 22 in a flooded school due to high tide in Macabebe town, Pampanga. The photo was taken by freelance photojournalist Lisa Marie David for international news agency, Reuters.

In Reuters’ report, some students have to ride on boats on their way to school that day.

Local news channel, CLTV 36, also reported the data from Macabebe’s Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office that all public elementary and secondary schools were recently affected by floods due to Severe Tropical Storm Florita (Ma On) and high tide.

They also interviewed Macabebe Mayor Leonardo “Bobong” Flores, who acknowledged the need to address the frequent flooding in their town.

And while VP Duterte made a statement that the return to in-person classes on August 22 was a “victory”, the experiences and challenges of students as seen in Macabebe during the opening of classes should still be recognized.

Davao Today is part of #FactsFirstPH which brings together various sectors that are committed to promoting truth in the public space, and exacting accountability on those who harm it with lies. For those interested to join the initiative, email info@factsfirst.ph.

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