Fact check: Tugatog cemetery in Malabon not sold to private entity, to undergo re-development

Fact check: Tugatog cemetery in Malabon not sold to private entity, to undergo re-development
The statue of a devil stepping on archangel Michael sits atop the tomb of Simeon Bernardo (inset) at the public cemetery in Tugatog, Malabon.
The STAR / Marc Jayson Cayabyab

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:55 a.m.) — A Facebook user said the Malabon Mayor Len Oreta sold Tugatog Cemetery. This is fake.

Tugatog Cemetery is public property owned by the local city government. It is set to undergo re-development.

Notices have been posted, as shared by this Facebook page on cemeteries in the country, that announced that modernization and expansion of the public cemetery will start on November 4. 

The Malabon Public Information Office has confirmed that the announcement in the post came from the city government.

Residents with loved ones interred in the cemetery were advised to contact the city government for disinterment and re-burial of the remains of their loved ones.

What the post said: Facebook user Nelson Maranan made two separate posts on September 18 and 21 on the supposed sale of the public cemetery.

On September 18, he wrote that Oreta sold Tugatog Cemetery to a private entity.

He made another post three days later, saying that Oreta showed greed and sold the public cemetery. The Facebook user also warned the public that they should coordinate to remove the tombs of their loved ones because bones will be burnt.

What the posts left out: The Malabon Public Information on September 23 refuted the false post and clarified that it is not selling the cemetery.

“The Tugatog Cemetery is a public cemetery owned by the city government and cannot be sold without going through proper process,” the post read in Filipino.

It added: “While the cemetery remains owned by the local government, it is set to be renovated so our constituents will be comfortable and safe when they visit their departed loved ones.”

Malabon PIO officer Bong Padua also told Philstar.com in a phone call on Monday that they are renovating the cemetery since the area gets flooded easily as a creek was also beside it.

“Masyado nang mababa at binabaha, nasa gilid ng creek. Kailangan talaga i-ayos,” he added.

Essential context: The flagged two Facebook posts remain up weeks after the Malabon PIO refuted it. This means that it can still be shared by users.

The posts were made as candidates also announced their intention to run in the 2022 polls. It was made two weeks before the filing of Certificates of Candidacy for both local and national posts.

Padua also noted in the phone interview that even though they already rebutted the rumors weeks ago, he received several questions also on October 12 on the same false post.

In 2019, academic blog New Mandala reported that it found that the Philippines saw a "more insidious and camouflaged" proliferation of so-called "fake news" in the midterm polls that year than in the 2016 national elections.

Why does this matter? While the first post only had 58 shares, the second Facebook post claiming the same was shared more than 2,200 times as of October 13.

The post may lead social media users to think that the city mayor and his family sold the cemetery where their loved ones were laid to rest for personal gain.

Incumbent Mayor Len Oreta’s brother, Enzo, is gunning to succeed him in leading Malabon in 2022. He accompanied his younger brother in filing the latter’s COC on October 3. — 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

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



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