Fact check: Who established IRRI?

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Fact check: Who established IRRI?
This photo shows the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna.
IRRI website

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:54 p.m.) — A newly released vlog and a 2015 column on BusinessMirror claim it was under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos that the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was established. This claim is false.

What was said:

Bongbong Marcos released a vlog on September 11 to celebrate the 104th birth anniversary of his father.

In it, he says his father had a clear vision for the Philippines and started fortifying the foundations of the country, including the basic needs of the people.

“Unang una ay kailangan may makakain ang tao dahil dito ay kanyang binuo yung IRRI, International Rice Research Institute. ‘Yung research kung ano yung pinakamagandang binhi, papano ang piakamagandang mga teknolohiya pinalawak nya ang irrigation systems,” Bongbong says.

(First and foremost, the people need to eat so he formed the IRR, International Rice Research Institute. The research what is the best seedling, the best technology, expanding irrigation systems.)

Screenshots by Philstar.com as of October 14, 11:50 a.m.

What he left out:

According to the IRRI website, it was founded by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. “IRRI is an independent, nonprofit, research and educational institution, founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations with support from the Philippine government,” it says.

The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) also notes on its website that IRRI “became the first and flagship example of a far-reaching, RF-inspired network of research centers.”

Bongbong’s father was not yet the chief executive when IRRI was founded and built, as he only became president five years later, in 1965.

A former IRRI director general also wrote in an account that “it was not possible to get Marcos to agree to the setting up of a national rice research institute in the Philippines.”

“He thought it was IRRI’s responsibility to look after the country’s problems too, which were quite localized with so many thousand islands making up the Philippines. We had to wait till Ms. Cory Aquino became President,” the account read.

It was Ferdinand, however, who signed the executive order creating  the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in November 1985.

This is a government corporate entity under the Department of Agriculture established “to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos,” PhilRice said on its website.

Originally based in UP Los Baños in Laguna, PhilRice is now headquartered in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

Essential context:

Bongbong is making a run for the highest seat of power in the country. This marks the family’s second attempt to return to Malacañang after the clan matriarch’s bid in 1992.

Martial Law victims slammed the move as a "brazen show of disregard and contempt for the thousands of Filipinos killed, disappeared, tortured, displaced and violated, and the Filipino nation whose economy was plundered and wrecked during the Marcos dictatorship."

The Marcos family has been long accused of revising history, even as Bongbong himself has insisted his family is a victim of such and had expressed his plan to "fix" textbooks about the Marcos years.

Why it matters:

The video was uploaded to Marcos’ Facebook page and YouTube channel. A link was also shared on his Twitter account with 911,000 followers.

As of October 14, the video on Facebook as of October 14 raked up 3.2 million views; 28,000 comments; and 396,000 reactions. The post has also been shared 11,000 times.

On YouTube, the video has accumulated more than 460,000 views since it was posted on September 11.

The video can lead viewers to believe that the premier research institute is among the achievements of the Marcos rule.

What kind of misinformation is this?

This is a type of false information.

The claim tagged a private foundation initiative that is beneficial to the people as a pioneering project of the late dictator.



This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts.

Have a claim you want fact-checked? Reach out to us at editor@philstar.com.

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