Fact check: Dinagat Islands explains why 'Angat Buhay' houses not yet built a month after launch

Fact check: Dinagat Islands explains why 'Angat Buhay' houses not yet built a month after launch
Photo from the Facebook page of Vice President Leni Robredo posted on December 20, 2021 shows the provincial capitol of Dinagat Islands destroyed during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai).
Leni Gerona Robredo on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — A Twitter user said that a month has passed since Vice President Leni Robredo went to Dinagat Islands, which was ravaged by Typhoon Odette, and promised to build houses, but only a tarpaulin of the “Angat Buhay” program can be seen on the site.

CLAIM: Twitter user @WebBuzzr said: "Residents of the area are now saying that someone just left an Angat Buhay tarp on the site, but no one came back. Anyare?"

RATING: This is misleading.


What the post say

The Twitter user said Robredo had a groundbreaking ceremony in Dinagat Islands for housing for survivors of Typhoon Odette, but not one house has been built since. Only the tarpaulin of Angat Buhay — an initiative of the Office of the Vice President in cooperation with NGOs and private partners — can be seen on the site.

"It has been a month since the VP went to Dinagat Island, had a groundbreaking ceremony, photo-ops, and promised housing units to the typhoon victims there," he said in a tweet on March 4.

He also attached a video in his tweet with photos of Robredo’s visit and Dinagat Islands Kaka Bag-ao sharing that Robredo gave them rice on her first visit and that when, she returned, the vice president said they can build houses.

A video dated March 1, 2022 also supposedly shows the site where the houses would have been built.

Philstar.com screengrab, March 8, 9:21 a.m.

What it left out

The Provincial Government of Dinagat Islands, through its Provincial Information Office, said they launched the Angat Buhay sa Kalikasang Buhay Villages on February 5.

The project was planned with OVP and funded through partners from the private sector and from civil society, which is how the Angat Buhay program does projects.

Addressing social media posts on the alleged delay in the project, the PIO said:  

"Yes, one month has passed, but each day since our groundbreaking, our Provincial Government offices that are part of the recovery team have been working tirelessly so that the first 60 houses (20 in each village site—Barangay Cuarinta in San Jose, Barangay Boa in Cagdianao, and Barangay Malinao in Tubjaon) will be built."

Philstar.com cannot independently verify the video of the supposed site, but the PIO said that since February 5, they have started land development, including clearing of the site, in the first site in Barangay Cuarinta.

They said they also had to submit the requirements for environmental compliance certificates. Workers have already been hired and materials have been procured and delivered.

"We do not plan on building houses using light materials. We seek to build resilient homes in safe areas using sturdy materials—which are not readily available in an island such as ours. We have to procure and shop these via sea travel and through outside sources. Land clearing also takes weeks. We cannot simply remove trees and rocks and then build houses right away," they added.

The PIO denied that there has been a delay, but admitted they would have wanted for progress to be faster. "Our engineers, planners and workers, together with our policy makers and each and every member of our recovery team are doing our best to ensure that we can build houses that will be able to withstand typhoons like Odette," they added.

Essential context

Dinagat Islands was among the hardest-hit areas by Typhoon Odette that ravaged Central Philippines in December 2021.

The typhoon affected more than 148,000 residents of the province, and killed at least 14 people in their locality.

In a Facebook post in December 2020, Robredo called for relief for the affected communities in the Caraga province. She said food was running out in the area and roads were unpassable due to fallen electric posts.

Based on posts of the provincial government in March, recovery efforts including programs for shelter and resettlement due to Odette are still ongoing.

In its latest statement, the PIO said: "To those who seek to use Dinagat Islands and our experience after Super Typhoon Odette simply for political gain, we ask you to take a step back and, instead, think of ways how you can help."

Why it matters

The tweet, which was spotted during social media monitoring, has gained 406 likes since its posting on March 4. It has also been retweeted 181 times, with 89 more quote tweets.

The attached video meanwhile has been viewed 35,500 times.

Despite the statement from the Dinagat Islands PIO, the tweet remains posted

Fact-checking coalition Tsek.ph found that Robredo, a presidential candidate, has been "reeling from preponderantly negative messages" on social media. — Kristine Joy Patag


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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