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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Chinese ships did NOT set PH vessel on fire

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel set a Philippine ship on fire.

YouTube channel Balitang Pinas 2024-03-21 False

The photo shown in the video’s thumbnail is an unrelated 1987 incident of a tanker ship set ablaze after it was attacked by an Iranian ship.

A video on YouTube shows a photo it alleged was a burning Philippine vessel supposedly attacked by Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) forces. This is false. The photo was that of an oil tanker set aflame in an Iranian attack in the Persian Gulf in 1987.

Published on March 21, the spurious video bore this clickbait headline: 

CHINA, UMATAKE ULIT! PERO IMBES MANALO, SILA ANG KINARMA! (China attacked yet again! But instead of winning, they received karma!)”

An image of an unspecified ship on fire can be seen on the video’s thumbnail, alongside photos of President Ferdinand Marcos, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese Foreign Ministry officer Mao Ning with the following text:

LATEST VIDEO NG PAG-ATAKE. CHINA NAAKTUHANG NANG-AATAKE! KIKILOS NA ANG PINAS. NAPAATRAS ANG CHINA! (Latest video of the attack. China caught attacking! The Philippines is making its move, made China retreat!)”

While China’s harassment of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and other vessels continues, it has not set ablaze or sunk a Philippine ship.

The image shown in the video thumbnail is unrelated to the heightened tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea but connected with the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s. 

The original photo shows Singapore-registered Norman Atlantic on fire in the Strait of Hormuz in December 1987. It was the first tanker sunk when Iran and Iraq started attacking ships in the Persian Gulf.

The video with the false claim showed clips of CCG ships firing water cannons at PCG vessels, although the clips are not recent. 

These were published in August last year on the official Facebook pages of the PCG and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. The old clips showed the CCG harassing Philippine vessels conducting a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.

But just this Saturday, the Philippine military reported that the CCG fired a water cannon at a supply vessel en route to Ayungin, causing damage to the ship.

Earlier, the PCG condemned China for employing “intimidation tactics” against Filipino marine scientists who conducted extensive “marine scientific resource assessments” on Pag-asa Cays 1 and 2.

YouTube channel Balitang Pinas (created on Nov. 20, 2019) published the untrue video, garnering over 58,000 views and could’ve potentially reached 646,000 netizens.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)