VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FAKE photo used to claim that PH Navy fired at Chinese ships


A video on Facebook (FB) used an altered photo to claim that the Philippine Navy recently fired at Chinese vessels illegally fishing on the West Philippine Sea. No such incident took place.

The original photo was taken as part of a weapons test drill during a 2022 international maritime warfare exercise.

On May 2, an FB page published the video that bore the headline:

Ganyan dapat! Pilipinas rumesbak at pinaputukan umano ang mga Chinese fishing vessel sa WPS. (That’s how it should be! Philippines retaliated and fired at Chinese fishing vessels on the West Philippine Sea.)”

At the start of the six-minute video, an alleged photo of the BRP Jose Rizal – the country’s first-ever missile frigate – supposedly firing at a nearby boat was shown as proof of its claim.

This photo is fake.  In the original, there is no fishing vessel, which the post claims to be Chinese, being fired at. Also, the Philippine Navy frigate in the photo is not BRP Jose Rizal.

Taken in July 2022, the original photo actually shows the Philippine Navy frigate BRP Antonio Luna testing its weapon systems during a live-fire drill with other ships at the 2022 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

The video with the fake photo emerged three days after the end of this year’s Balikatan Exercise, the largest iteration of the flagship bilateral military exercise between the United States and the Philippines.

It was during this event where the BRP Jose Rizal participated in the SINKEX, a naval sinking exercise to simulate sinking a ship. This occurred at the tail end of the annual bilateral military drill.

According to Balikatan 2023 spokesperson Col. Mike Logico in an April 26 press interview, the BRP Jose Rizal kickstarted the sinking of the decommissioned Second World War-era BRP Pangasinan.

FB page PH Speaker (created on Sept. 19, 2022) published the video, garnering over 10,000 reactions, 760 comments, 350 shares and 350,000 views.

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form or send it to ‘VERA, the truth bot’ on Viber.

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