FACT CHECK South China Sea: Waters of Contention

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Online post on PH-China 60-40 profit split on joint oil exploration MISLEADING

An online post claiming that the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China have agreed on a 60-40 profit-sharing scheme on their joint oil exploration in disputed maritime areas is misleading.

Facebook page Bistado Pilipinas 2.0’s Nov. 22 post bore the caption:


60% mapuntasaPilipinasnakita at 40% namanmapuntasa CHINA (60 percent of the profit will go to the Philippines while 40 percent will go to China).

Ano na naman kaya ang opinion ng mga Dilawan sa hakbang ng Duterte Admin tungkol sa Joint Oil Exploration (What will the Yellows say about the Duterte administration’s latest attempt on a joint oil exploration)?

The post also carried an infographic that showed photos of Chinese President Xi Jinping next to a cropped tourism photo of Palawan overlaid with the Chinese flag and a “40% CHINA” banner in red, and President Rodrigo Duterte next to a photo of an island overlaid with the Philippine flag and a “60% PHILIPPINES” banner in blue.

The post is misleading on two counts: Its claim and a photo it used.

While the Philippine government, prior to Xi’s visit, initially floated the idea of proposing a 60-40 split between it and China, this was not reflected in the signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the joint oil exploration between the two countries.

The document merely bears the commitment of both governments to “negotiate on an accelerated basis arrangements to facilitate oil and gas exploration and exploitation of relevant maritime areas”.

More, Bistado Pilipinas 2.0 published its misleading post days before Malacañang made the MOU available to the public. Malacañang has yet to release the majority of the 29 deals it made with China during Xi’s two-day visit in the country.

The MOU did not specify what it meant exactly by “relevant maritime areas” the two countries plan to explore.

However, the photo of the island next to Duterte is actually that of the Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas, far from the South China Sea, which had been posted as early as April 19, 2011 on the website of nonprofit Living Oceans Foundation.

The misleading post has since garnered over 4,000 shares and could have reached at least 7,249 people on Facebook.

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