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FACT CHECK: PH will NOT invoke MDT after recent China clash

WHAT WAS CLAIMED

The Philippines will invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States (U.S.) following the recent clash between the China Coast Guard and Philippine Navy

OUR VERDICT

False:

Palace and military officials said the clash cannot be considered an armed attack and is not enough grounds to put the MDT into action.

Jun 27, 2024

VERA Files

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3-minute read

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A clickbait YouTube video suggests that the Philippines will invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States (U.S.) following the recent clash between the China Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy last June 17. This is false.

Officials from the presidential palace and the military said the clash cannot be considered an armed attack and does not justify putting the MDT into action.

Uploaded on June 23, almost a week after the incident occurred, the video bore this clickbait headline:

CHINA BINIRA NG AFP! BABALIK TAYO AT GAGANTI! PINAS GAGANTI SA MGA CHINESE! MAGDEDEKLARA NA! NG MDT (AFP attacked China! We will return and seek revenge! Philippines will retaliate against the Chinese! Will invoke the MDT)?”

Its thumbnail also carried a text that read: “CHINA BINIRA NG AFP! BABALIK TAYO AT GAGANTI! MAGDEDEKLARA NA NG MDT (AFP attacked China! We will return and seek revenge! Will invoke the MDT)?”

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: THE FACTS. The Philippines will not invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States over a clash with China near Ayungin Shoal in mid-June. Palace and military officials said the incident cannot be considered an armed attack.

In a June 21 press briefing, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said the recent sea clash was not an armed attack but a “a misunderstanding or an accident.” He added that the government has not discussed invoking the MDT because of the incident.

The U.S.-Philippines MDT signed in 1951 requires both nations to assist each other during an armed attack by another country. Under Article IV of the treaty, “Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.”

In April, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the treaty may be invoked if a Filipino serviceman gets killed by an attack from a foreign power.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea spokesperson, also echoed the Palace’s position, saying that the incident cannot be treated as an armed attack “because it was just an intention of China to prevent the resupply from being successful.”

During a routine resupply mission to troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, Chinese Coast Guard forces armed with bolos, knives and spears rammed and boarded Philippine Navy boats. Eight navy sailors were injured, including one whose thumb was cut off.

Ayungin Shoal is a feature in the Spratly Islands within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, but is also being claimed by China. BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated ship grounded in the shoal, serves as the country’s military outpost.

The video was a clickbait as its voiceover even mentioned that Philippine officials will not invoke the MDT over the incident. It also just played a clip of a June 19 House committee probe into billions-worth of illegal drugs seized in Pampanga and Subic.

Uploaded by YouTube channels Boss Balita TV and BALITA NI JUAN, the misleading video received over 27,182 interactions. Facebook users also reposted the links.

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