FACT CHECK South China Sea: Waters of Contention

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: The evolving Palace stance on allowing China to fish in PH EEZ

Three years ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) released its historic ruling in favor of the Philippines against China on the South China Sea dispute.

In its decision, the Court noted China’s failure to prevent its fishermen from fishing in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) — a violation of the latter’s sovereign rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

This was the same stance Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo initially upheld following the June 9 allision in Recto Bank, an area within the country’s EEZ. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The evolving statements on the Recto Bank allision: a visual timeline)

But Panelo has changed his position. He now echoes the sentiment of President Rodrigo Duterte who says, he will allow China to exploit the marine resources in the country’s EEZ to prevent a “war.”

Watch how the Palace’s position on the issue evolved.



Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo:

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech during the 122nd founding anniversary of Presidential Security Group, June 26, 2019

Radio Television Malacañang, Media Interview after the Premiere Night of the Movie ‘Kontradiskyon’, June 24, 2019

Permanent Court of Arbitration, The South China Sea Arbitration Award, July 12, 2016

United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)