FALSE: Protesters at U.P. did not practice physical distancing

Claim: Protesters who took part in the Grand Mañanita on Independence Day 2020 at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman did not practice physical distancing.

Website asianpolicy.press published a blog post that contained a photo from the event on Friday, June 12. Its headline read: "LOOK: Mga bopols na raliyista sa UP, walang physical distancing?" (Stupid protesters at UP, no physical distancing?)

The website credited GMA News reporter Sandra Aguinaldo for the photo. The blog post only had short text that said: "Ito ay kuha ng GMA News mula sa UP kung saan nagtipon-tipon ang mga taga oposisyon para mag protesta. Sa tingin ninyo, base sa litratong ito, sinusunod ba nila ang health and safety protocols? Let us know in the comments."

(This was taken by GMA News earlier today at UP where the opposition gathered to protest. In your opinion, did they follow health and safety protocols? Let us know in the comments.)

Facebook's monitoring tool called Claim Check flagged the link for fact checkers to verify. It was reported at least 5 times on the platform for containing false information. The link to the blog post was shared 8 times on Facebook.

As of writing, the blog post had 7,920 combined engagements on Facebook based on data from social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The photo was really taken from the Grand Mañanita protest and was tweeted by Sandra Aguinaldo on June 12, but she has clarified that the protesters practiced physical distancing.

In her succeeding tweets posted on the same day, Aguinaldo posted more photos from different angles. Physical distancing can also be seen in the live stream she did that day.

Photos showing how the rallyists observed social distancing being requested by some. Here they are. pic.twitter.com/Vn88dB22Pm — sandra aguinaldo (@sandraguinaldo) June 12, 2020

On Saturday, June 13, a Twitter user criticized Aguinaldo for the angle of the first photo and said that Duterte supporters were using it to claim there was no physical distancing done during the protest. Aguinaldo responded to the tweet and asked the user to check all of her tweets that day, which show how the demonstrators practiced physical distancing.

The user's tweet has been deleted since. The user has also apologized to Aguinaldo for it, which Aguinaldo accepted.

Asianpolicy.press, however, did not include any of Aguinaldo's other photos and videos in its blog post. It also hasn't published an update as of Wednesday, June 17.

The comments section of the post by Facebook page DT, the page that had the highest number of engagements among all pages and groups that shared the link on Facebook, also showed that readers believed there was no physical distancing during the event. Some of them even blamed UP students.

This is not the first time Rappler fact checked a claim by asianpolicy.press. In May, the website claimed that Lopez-owned firm First Philippine Holdings Corporation earned P24.6 billion in 2019 but paid only P10 million in income taxes. Rappler rated this as partly false. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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