VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo DID NOT say Filipino fishermen were hallucinating about boat sinking

A hoax claiming that Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has downplayed the accounts of the Filipino fishermen who said they were hit and abandoned by a Chinese vessel in the disputed West Philippine Sea has gone viral.

On June 15, a netizen posted a quote card featuring an October 2018 photo of Panelo superimposed with the words:

“H’wag nating paniwalaan agad ang mga kwento nila. Pwedeng sinisiraan lang ang mga Chinese. Pwedeng nagha-hallucinate lang ‘tong mga ito. Ingat kayo sa mga sinasabi ninyo kasi pwedeng kasuhan ang mga mangingisdang ito.”

The fabricated statement was juxtaposed against quotes of Junel Insigne, captain of the sunken F/B GEM-VIR 1, who narrated how the Chinese vessel allegedly left the area after it hit and sank their fishing boat near Reed Bank on June 9. Insigne also said they would have died had the Vietnamese not been there.

No official records show Panelo ever made such a statement.

On June 14, Panelo said the abandoning of Filipino fishermen in the high seas is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Earlier, he said the Philippines’ responses to the incident “will always be calibrated, depending on the degree” and that the country will not tolerate assault, bullying and being the subject of “barbaric, uncivilized and outrageous actions from any source.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin said June 13 on Twitter that he has “fired off” a diplomatic protest over the incident at Recto Bank.

Shared over 15,000 times, the now-taken down post surfaced the day after the 22 Filipino fishermen returned home to Occidental Mindoro.

(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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