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FACT CHECK Facelift of GenSan air and sea ports initiated during Aquino presidency

President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that the improvement of the air and sea ports in General Santos City (GenSan) is part of his centerpiece “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program is false. The upgrading of the city’s airport and the Makar Wharf was funded and started during the term of the late President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (2010 to 2016).

Duterte inspected the newly-completed development projects at the General Santos City Airport and the Makar Port on November 22, 2021.

duterte gensan
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the inspection of the newly expanded General Santos Airport in Barangay Fatima, General Santos City on November 22, 2021. ALBERTO ALCAIN/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

“Indeed, it is another significant milestone under our Build, Build, Build  Program that envisions to improve travel and mobility throughout the country as well as stimulate our economic activities,” he said in his speech.

While those development projects were completed under the current Duterte administration, they were initiated during the previous Aquino administration.

According to the SOCSKSARGEN Area Development Project Office (SADPO) Annual Report 2015, the General Santos City Airport was provided a budget of P959 million under Calendar Year 2015 of the Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) Infrastructure Program for the improvement of the existing airport passenger terminal building and other facilities.

On January 15, 2015, MindaNews published a report quoting a top official from the Regional Development Council – Region 12 that preparatory works for the airport’s expansion would begin during the month. https://mindanews.com/top-stories/2015/01/p959m-expansion-project-for-gensan-airport-to-start-this-month/

Also in a statement, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), during Aquino’s term, noted the expansion project of the GenSan Airport was part of the Mindanao Development Corridors, a key spatial strategy of MinDA that will help pave the way for a connected and globally competitive Mindanao. MinDA is a government agency tasked to coordinate and accelerate the socioeconomic development of Mindanao.

The then DOTC, which is now known as the Department of Transportation, advertised an “Invitation to Bid” for the expansion/rehabilitation of the GenSan Airport with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 17 November 2015. The approved budget for the contract was P374.563 million. https://dotr.gov.ph/images/Public_Bidding/CivilWorks/Air_Sector/2015/1.078B-InfraProjects/ITB_1.078B_InfraAirportProjects-FINAL.pdf

In a July 28, 2020 news item, the state-run Philippine News Agency reported: “The airport terminal project, which started in June 2017, was part of the P959 million funding approved by the Department of Transportation (and Communications) in 2015 for the upgrading and improvement of the city airport.” https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1110338

As to the Makar Wharf improvement, the SADPO Annual Report 2015 indicated that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) identified various initiatives under its Medium Term Public Investment Plan amounting to P835.98 million aimed to improve the facilities and operation of the Makar Port.

As of December 2015, several projects were undertaken by the PPA Project Management Office SOCSKSARGEN, including the upgrading of the western wharf, the report said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)

MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism. It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media.

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About MindaNews Fact Check

MindaNews Fact Check seeks to fight misinformation and disinformation circulating on the internet, news platforms and communities that we serve.
What is MindaNews Fact Check?
MindaNews Fact Check tracks and debunks fake news, false claims and misleading statements of government officials, civil society leaders and netizens being spread on the internet, especially on social media sites. MindaNews values truth and accuracy in performing our journalistic work.
Why we fact-check?
Politicians, government officials and other public and private figures at times tend to bend facts to suit or advance their vested interests, or their principals, in effect misleading the public. The distorted facts spread easily with the popularity of the internet and the wide influence of social media.
As independent journalists, our primordial duty is to tell the truth and present facts to help the public discern issues and concerns impacting their lives.
How do we rate claims?

FAKE – if the claim is completely invented.

FALSE – if the claim contradicts, undermines or disputes truthful facts, actual events and official records (i.e. laws and scientific studies)

MISLEADING – if the claim is based on truth but maliciously twisted that gives a different impression to serve a group or individual’s vested interests.

ALTERED – pertains to images or videos that were manipulated to mislead the public.

– if the claim needs more clarification or contextualization to make it clearer.
Where do you post your results?
We post our fact-checked stories in mindanews.com, on Facebook and Twitter with links to the original piece. We have a dedicated fact check page, where all fact-checked stories can be found.
How did MindaNews Fact Check start?

Since its establishment in 2001, MindaNews has been living up to its vision of being the “leading provider of accurate, timely and comprehensive news and information on Mindanao and its peoples, serving economically, politically and culturally empowered communities” and its mission to “professionally and responsibly cover Mindanao events, peoples and issues to inform, educate, inspire and influence communities.”

MindaNews was founded by reporters precisely to ensure that reports about Mindanao, an island grouping that has suffered misinformation and disinformation long before these words became fashionable, are accurate.
Our policy has always been to ensure that reports are thoroughly vetted before they are dispatched and uploaded on our website.
Our fact-checking initiative with a uniform format started in October 2021 as part of Internews’ pioneering Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator (PFCI) project. Internews is an international non-profit that supports independent media from 100 countries.
Prior to the PFCI project, MindaNews co-founded Tsek.ph, a collaboration among Philippine media institutions to fight disinformation and misinformation during the 2019. Tsek.ph did the same thing for the 2022 elections.
Where do you get funds?
MindaNews has sustained its operation through proceeds from subscriptions of its news service (news, special reports, opinion pieces, photos) and sales of books. It also receives grants from non-state actors. Editorial prerogative, however, is left entirely to MindaNews.
MindaNews does not accept funds from politicians or domestic or foreign states for its fact-checking initiative. For the other operations of MindaNews as a media organization, we have received grants from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The grants from NED and UNESCO have been used for coverage, staff compensation, administrative expenses, and to train fellow journalists.
For MindaNews’ fact-checking initiatives, it received support from Internews (September 2021 to October 2022) and the BUILD grant administered by the International Fact-Checking Network (August 1, 2023 to July 31, 2024).
As a matter of policy, MindaNews does not allow these funders to interfere in our editorial processes.
Do you accept leads from the public for your fact-checking initiative?
MindaNews encourages the public to provide us with leads not only for potential fact-check pieces but other news stories as well of interest to the general public.
Our fact checks include this paragraph encouraging readers to be part of the process: “As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact check pieces.”

MindaNews Fact Check - Methodology

What standards do you follow when fact-checking?

As a news organization, we strictly adhere to accuracy, fairness, balance, independence, accountability and transparency not just in our fact-checking initiative but in all other aspects of our work at MindaNews.

We abide by the Philippine Press Institute’s Journalist’s Code of Ethics. Since we became part of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator project, we have been striving to adhere with the IFCN Code of Principles, in step with our organization’s commitment to non-partisanship, transparency and fairness.

We fact-check a claim that is specifically claimed to be a fact and involved the public interest or the welfare of the people. We debunk false claims using official government records, journals or interviews with experts. 

We don’t fact-check opinions.

How do we fact-check?

Step 1: Team members monitor press conferences, speeches, statements, news, interviews, social media sites, etc. for statements worth fact-checking.

Step 2: When a claim is worth fact-checking, a team member looks for multiple sources to dispute the claim, including tracing the original source document.

Step 3:  Fact-checked claims are then submitted to the editor for copy editing and vetting. The link/s to debunk the claim are always included in the story.  

Step 4: A rating card is prepared to accompany the fact-checked piece, or infographics if needed, to immediately flag readers what the article is all about. 

Step 5: The senior editor takes another look before the article is posted on the website and social media accounts.

Correction Policy

Consistent with our vision and mission as a media institution, we rectify any error committed. If you spot a factual error, you may notify us thru editor@mindanews.com or our Facebook Messenger @Mindanews.

Correction Workflow

  • Errors pointed out are immediately brought to the attention of the editors and the fact-checking team. 

  • The fact-checker is immediately notified for verification. 

  • Once verified, the error is to be corrected within 24 hours and vetted before publication on the website. 

  • Readers will immediately know errors have been corrected through the Editor’s note posted above the article. 

  • The person who notified MindaNews about the error will be informed that the correction has been made.

About MindaNews

MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism (MinJourn). It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media. MinJourn, which is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission with registration number CN201700385, is managed by its Board of Directors.

MindaNews values its journalistic independence. It started in May 2001 as a media cooperative and in January 2017 registered as a nonstock, nonprofit media organization.  We do not  accept funding from politicians, political parties or partisan groups.

Editorial staff

Fact-checking Unit: Romer (Bong) Sarmiento, Yas D. Ocampo


Mindanao Institute of Journalism


Board of Directors

President & CEO: Jowel Canuday, D.Phil. (oxon.)
Vice President: Romer S. Sarmiento

Carolyn O. Arguillas, M.A.
Rhodora Gail T. Ilagan, Ph.D.
Amalia B. Cabusao (Doc Can.)
Robert D. Timonera
Ellen P. Alinea