Fact check: Bill Gates 'donation' to Isko Moreno asked in presidential debate

Fact check: Bill Gates 'donation' to Isko Moreno asked in presidential debate
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso at the first nationally televised presidential debates at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and aired on CNN Philippines on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.
Marvin John Uy for Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Jose Montemayor asked fellow candidate, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno if he will return “million of dollars” he received from Bill Gates.

Claim: In the CNN Philippines’ Presidential Debate, Montemayor said he read in “papers” that American billionaire Bill Gates donated 15 million dollars to Moreno.

Rating: This is false.


What he said

Hosts Pia Hontiveros and Pinky Webb asked, via show of hand, the nine presidential bets whether they agree that unused campaign funds should be returned to donors.

Only Moreno did not raise his hand, explaining he has “no moral ascendancy” to answer the question in favor since he admitted earlier that he kept excess donation but stressed that he paid the taxes for it.

Montemayor asked Moreno in Filipino: “How about the 15 million dollars that Bill Gates gave to you, will you return that?”

Hontiveros said the amount involved in the question is actually P50 million.

But Montemayor insisted: “15 million dollars that were donated to Mayor Isko, as I read in the papers, is that campaign fund? … Bill Gates has no pesos.”

What was left out

Bill Gates did donate money, but it was to the city government of Manila where Moreno sits as mayor.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website shows that they have committed 319,147 US dollars or roughly P16 million to Manila on February 2020.

The purpose was “to procure and demonstrate innovative, safe, off-grid toilet products and utility services in low-income communities that are not safely reachable by incumbent toilet technologies or utility services.”

Essential context

Moreno had earlier admitted to keeping part of excess campaign funds.

In his interview at The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews that aired in late January, Moreno admitted to keeping some P50.8 million in leftover campaign funds from his failed Senate run in 2016.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that Moreno said he paid P9.7 million in taxes for an income worth P50.55 million when asked about the funds.

During the CNN debates, Moreno also showed a copy of the Bureau of Internal Revenue receipt.

Why this matters

Interaksyon reported that Bill Gates trended on Twitter following Montemayor’s question.

Hours after the debate, YouTube Channel Sammy TV posted a video with the misleading title: “Bistado ka Isko! $15 Million ni Bill Gates kay Isko Binulgar sa Debate My Resibo pa!”

Before showing part of the video from the CNN Philippines debate, the unnamed narrator said: “Kinabahan nga si Isko Moreno. 15M donation binulgar mismo sa debate. Halatang kinakabahan.” He also questioned where the P700 million went to, despite clarifications made.

We fact-checked this because the video that took out part of the debates already has more than 7,100 views just three hours after posting.

At the end of the debates all present presidential candidates, like Montemayor, also committed to fair, honest and peaceful elections.  — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna



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.

Want to know more about our fact-checking initiative? Check our FAQs here.

Have a claim you want fact-checked? Reach out to us at [email protected].

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