VERA FILES FACT CHECK: China did NOT bomb Scarborough

China has bombed Scarborough Shoal

YouTube channel Melvs Castle 02/18/2024 False

There are no official reports from the Department of National Defense nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines that such an incident took place in Bajo de Masinloc. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources only reported that Chinese fishermen were allegedly doing cyanide fishing in the area.

A YouTube video claimed that China bombed Scarborough Shoal. This is not true. The photo of the explosion used in the video was taken during a naval drill in 2013, and not in Scarborough, which is also called Bajo de Masinloc. 

The video was uploaded on Feb. 18, a day after the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that Chinese fishermen were doing cyanide fishing in the area. Its thumbnail showed a photo of an explosion at sea together with a text read:


(Oh no, this is scary! China bombed and destroyed. The Philippines threatened China. This is a big war versus China).”

The video, which was uploaded by three YouTube channels, also carried the following caption: 

PCG COMMODORE JAY pinag bantaan ang China sa kabila ng pang bobomba nito at pag lalason sa Bjo De Masinloc (sic).

PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela threatened China after its bombing and poisoning of Bajo de Masinloc).”

There are no official reports from the Department of National Defense nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines that such an incident took place in Bajo de Masinloc, an atoll which is part of the country’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone that is being claimed by China. 

The photo of the sea explosion is not recent. Reverse image search showed that it was originally taken in 2013 during a Norwegian naval exercise

BFAR Spokesperson Nazario Briguera just said in a Feb. 17 interview that they had received reports from Filipino fisherfolk that Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen were allegedly using cyanide to destroy fishing grounds in Scarborough. 

A 2003 study from the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center cites cyanide fishing as a destructive fishing method as it kills fish corals and other marine animals. 

The Chinese Embassy in Manila denied such allegations and called it “totally baseless and [a] sheer fabrication.”

Commodore Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard Spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said they are yet to confirm such reports. He said in a Feb. 18 interview with GMA News:

“We do not have any scientific study or any evidence that would suggest that the cyanide fishing at Bajo de Masinloc can be attributed to the Chinese or even the Vietnamese fishermen.”

Source: GMA Integrated News YouTube Channel, “24 Oras Weekend Livestream: February 18, 2024 – Replay,” Feb. 18, 2024 (from 10:23 to 10:36)

The National Security Council expressed alarm over the alleged cyanide fishing by foreign fishermen in Philippine waters and said they will be investigating the incident. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for his part, said that the country will file a case against China if there is enough proof linking them to destructive activities in the area. 

Uploaded by YouTube channels Melvs Castle, WANGBUDISS TV and Kuya JhoTv, the erroneous videos received a total of 43,624 interactions. VERA Files Fact Check previously flagged these channels for spreading disinformation on the South China Sea dispute. 

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