FALSE: Photo of ABS-CBN supporters flouting quarantine rules

Claim:

Supporters of ABS-CBN, including actor Gerald Anderson, gathered together and violated quarantine rules by not wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook page True News Stories posted a photo on July 21 of Anderson with other supporters. The caption said, “This is very irresponsible. Without a mask, ABS-CBN network supporters take for granted Covid-19 and do not even wear masks. ‘Pag nakakita ng artista, balewala ang social distancing at wearing a mask.” (Once they see celebrities, social distancing and wearing masks are dispensed with.)

Two other accounts posted the same photo from July 21 to 22 and captioned their posts with similar claims.

Several readers emailed the posts to Rappler for verification. They were also flagged by Claim Check, Facebook’s monitoring tool, for containing potentially false information. As of writing, True News Stories’ post had over 1,700 shares, 1,000 comments, and 964 reactions. 

Rating: FALSE
The facts:

The photo was not taken recently but was from a prayer rally on February 28 intended for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise. Among the celebrities who attended the event were Gerald Anderson, Nikki Valdez, and Elmo Magalona. (LOOK: Stars attend prayer rally for ABS-CBN franchise renewal) A reverse image search yielded this information.

At this time, the World Health Organization (WHO) was not yet recommending the wearing of masks, except for people who were sick with COVID-19 or were caring for people infected with the virus.

Wearing masks in public only became mandatory in Luzon on April 2, after the government’s coronavirus task force adopted the policy for areas under enhanced community quarantine.

WHO also started supporting the wearing of face masks in public on April 3. The organization said surgical masks should still be reserved for health professionals, but the general public could wear cloth or other reusable masks.

In June, WHO completely changed its stance on the issue and recommended the use of face masks for everyone after evolving evidence showed it can limit the spread of the virus.

Still, WHO maintains that wearing face masks alone is not enough to prevent being infected with the coronavirus. “Whether or not masks are used, compliance with hand hygiene, physical distancing, and other infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent human-to-human transmission of COVID-19,” WHO said in its interim guidance document released on June 5.

ABS-CBN supporters have been gathering since early this year to support the franchise application of the network and condemn its shutdown. Recent photos show that supporters of ABS-CBN nationwide, including celebrities, wore masks during protests. (IN PHOTOS: Filipinos make noise nationwide to protest ABS-CBN shutdown) – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.