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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Claim that Duterte will ‘blow up’ ties with China NOT TRUE

Duterte has said no such thing.

May 7, 2021

VERA Files


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An eight-and-a-half-minute-long Facebook (FB) video with over 1.3 million views is falsely claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte “has reached a decision against China.” The video’s thumbnail insinuates that Duterte has decided to “blow up” (pasabugin) the country’s ties with China over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.

Duterte has said no such thing.

FB page Pinoy Trending’s erroneous claim in its May 3 video even runs counter to Duterte’s actual pronouncement later that day. He said the current conflict is not a reason for the Philippines “to be rude and disrespectful” to China.

He also insisted that he “never promised” to reclaim the WPS from China during his presidential campaign in 2016 — despite actually making the vow during a pre-election debate. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte claims he ‘never mentioned’ PH-China maritime row in 2016 campaign. He did.)

In his latest Talk to the People address on May 5, Duterte even threatened to disregard the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling which dismissed China’s nine-dash line claim in areas that are inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea. Duterte referred to the ruling as “just a piece of paper” which he will “throw into a wastebasket.”

The content of the video, which FB page Pinoy Trending spuriously tagged as “BREAKING NEWS,” does not support the claim in its title and thumbnail. It was a composite of two video clips and an audio clip lifted from different sources.

The first was a two-minute clip taken from a 22-minute China Central Television footage showing the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China being visited by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a naval parade in the South China Sea in April 2018.

The second clip, which ran for six minutes and 20 seconds, was a CNN Philippines file video of the WPS played on loop. Overlayed was audio taken from a November 2019 video uploaded by CNN Philippines reporter Rex Remitio, showing a Filipino ship captain, Manolo Ebora, reporting to the Philippine Navy his ship’s encounter with a Chinese vessel near Scarborough Shoal.

Pinoy Trending’s erroneous video has over 46,000 engagements from FB users, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle. Traffic to the post came largely from Pinoy Trending itself, as well as public FB groups Hugpong Federal Movement of the Philippines in Region 7 and SIOCON PRIDE BANGKARERA 2020.

An earlier copy of the spurious video was uploaded on Youtube by channel DDS NEWSINFO an hour before Pinoy Trending published its FB post. It currently has 306,000 views.

Pinoy Trending was created in October 2019, while DDS NEWSINFO joined Youtube in December 2012.

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

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