A photo posted recently by the head of a state information office showing passengers walking on the tracks of the Metro Rail Transit line along EDSA (MRT-3) involved an incident that happened during the Duterte administration, not before it as the official claimed.
Visual clues from the photo Philippine Information Agency director general Ramon Cualoping III uploaded April 15 to his Facebook account and online searches point to the incident taking place near the Guadalupe station in Makati in 2017 when President Rodrigo Duterte was already in office.
Cualoping, who is a Presidential Communications Operations Office undersecretary and a Davaoeño like Duterte, said in the post:
BEFORE DUTERTE. This was how daily commute was in Metro Manila. Thank God, Rodrigo Roa Duterte is our President. GO DUTERTE!
The text “Before Duterte” was superimposed on the photo. It was in yellow, apparently taking a dig at Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III who is associated with that color.
In the photo, passengers are seen walking northbound toward the Guadalupe station that is flanked by three billboards. The biggest billboard shows actress Maine Mendoza endorsing a brand of tocino or sweet cured pork. Showbiz couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera and daughter Zia are on a smaller billboard advertising a corned tuna product. The smallest billboard was promoting a fastfood chain’s combo meal.
Google Maps yielded photos taken at that location on different dates. A March 2017 photo captured Mendoza’s billboard and a hotdog advertisement, but not the outdoor ad of the corned tuna.
Months later, the billboard of the Dantes family promoting corned tuna would appear under Mendoza's, replacing the hotdog ad, as a June 2017 photo found on Google Maps shows.
In a March 2018 photo on Google Maps, the billboards had been taken over by a car ad and by a vitamin ad endorsed by actress Bea Alonzo.
FactRakers did not come across the specific photo Cualoping posted, but its online search led to two amateur videos taken Aug. 14, 2017 of offloaded passengers walking toward the Guadalupe station surrounded by the same three billboards shown in the photo he uploaded.
One video was uploaded to ABS-CBN News Channel’s Twitter account and taken by Bayan Patrol’s Rhicky Unidad. ANC’s tweet:
WATCH: Passengers walk on MRT tracks after train unloaded them between Guadalupe and Buendia station | via Bayan Patrol Rhicky Unidad
The other video was shot by Razel Ann Nora and posted on YouScoop’s Facebook account. YouScoop is a citizen journalism project of GMA News. The accompanying text read:
YouScoop: Aberya sa MRT. WATCH: Mga pasahero ng MRT, pinababa sa may Guadalupe station matapos magkaaberya bandang 4:30 ng hapon. Kuha at ulat ni YouScooper Razel Ann Nora (YouScoop: Trouble at MRT. Watch: MRT passengers were offloaded at the Guadalupe station when engine trouble developed at 4:30 in the afternoon. Photo and report by YouScooper Razel Ann Nora)
A tweet of the Department of Transportation-MRT3 that day announced that a defective train had stopped between the Buendia and Guadalupe stations, disrupting operations.
The Senate in 2014 launched an inquiry into country’s public and mass transport system after an MRT-3 train overshot the tracks at the Taft Avenue station, injuring more than three dozen people.
Problems, however, continue to beset the MRT-3 even after Duterte became president.
Rappler reported that the MRT-3 line recorded 516 glitches and problems in 2017, which resulted in service disruptions, including 449 train offloading incidents. It recorded only 441 incidents the previous year.
Passenger offloading would occur well into 2019 even as rehabilitation began in May that year, forcing commuters to walk on the line’s tracks. The MRT-3 communications office has said it was not dangerous for passengers to do so because, it explained, the trains are powered from overhead cables and not through the rails.
Rehabilitation of the line will take 43 months.
MRT-3 closed for two months last year after Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed operations on June 1.
Cualoping’s post generated 1,600 likes, 84 comments and 160 shares. The PIA director general joined Facebook in June 2008 and has 54,412 followers,
ABS-CBN News Channel [@ANCALERTS]. (2017, August 14). WATCH: Passengers walk on MRT tracks after train unloaded them between Guadalupe and Buendia station | via Bayan Patrol Rhicky Unidad [Video]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/ANCALERTS/status/897026813557219328
Bueza, M. (2017, November 20). MRT woes: How often do they happen? Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/mrt-problems-frequency-data
Cualoping, Mon. (2021, April 15). BEFORE DUTERTE. This was how daily commute was in Metro Manila. Thank God, Rodrigo Roa Duterte is our President. GO DUTERTE! [Status update]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10159294257542171&set=a.10158701392042171&type=3
De la Cruz, R. (2019, October 2). MRT-3 passengers offloaded due to power issue. Philippine News Agency. https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1082021
Department of Transportation. (2019, May 1). Rehabilitation of MRT-3 in full mobilization starting today following handover to Sumitomo-MHI-TESP. https://dotr.gov.ph/55-dotrnews/896-full-mobilization-of-mrt-3-rehab-starts-today.html
DOTr MRT-3 [@dotrmrt3]. (2017, August 14). Prov'l Service implemented from North-Shaw viceversa only as of 4:19 PM due to a def.train currently on stop between Guada and Buendia NB [Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/dotrmrt3/status/897016594672500736
YouScoop. (2017, August 14). YouScoop: Aberya sa MRT. WATCH: Mga pasahero ng MRT, pinababa sa may Guadalupe station matapos magkaaberya bandang 4:30 ng hapon. Kuha at ulat ni YouScooper Razel Ann Nora [Video]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/youscoop/videos/10155522978786977/