VERA FILES FACT CHECK: PH Navy did NOT confront Chinese ships in Panatag Shoal 


A video falsely claims that the Philippine Navy recently sent warships to challenge Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels at Panatag Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc. 

Posted on June 20 by YouTube channel Terong Explained, the video bore this title: 

CHINA NAKATIKIM! PH Navy SUMUGOD SA PWESTO Ng China Coast Guard (China gets a taste! PH Navy rushes to the Chinese Coast Guard’s position)!” 

This claim is false: It skews an account of what happened at Panatag Shoal eight months ago, and misrepresented it as a recent event. 

No PH warships sent vs China

The video claimed as “breaking news” that the Philippines deployed warships on a Thursday, after seeing four CCG ships and two Chinese militia vessels on Panatag Shoal. This is false.

A cursory search revealed that the incident happened on Oct. 6, 2022, which was a Thursday. A search on the PCG’s official FB page showed that coast guard vessels were deployed, not Philippine Navy warships. 

The PCG sent out the offshore patrol vessel BRP Gabriela Silang and the multi-role response vessel BRP Suluan to ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen in the area. 

No ‘confrontation’ with Chinese ships

Contrary to the video’s claim, the PCG did not approach the CCG’s ships to remind the Chinese of the Philippines’ sovereign rights. The two parties did not challenge each other. 

The PCG only monitored and observed the Chinese ships spotted at Panatag Shoal, according to its statement.

PCG did not say it was ready to ‘retaliate’ 

According to the video, PCG Spokesperson and Rear Admiral Armand Balilo allegedly said this after a CCG ship pointed lasers at a PCG vessel in February

Hindi kami magpapatinag kung sila ay gagamit ng laser light o water cannon, gagamit din kami (We won’t be intimidated if they use laser lights or water cannons, we’ll also use those).”

This is not true. During a Feb. 14 episode of ONE News’ The Chiefs, Balilo explained what the Philippines would do if China displays aggression in the disputed West Philippine Sea. 

“We’ll go back to the mandate of the Coast Guard… We preserve the peace and if there is such a situation, the bottom line is to de-escalate the situation,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Terong Explained’s erroneous video received 44,400 interactions. A reuploaded version, uploaded to Facebook page Ukraine Fights on June 21, got 152,518 interactions.

Both videos appeared a day after Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked the Philippine government to rally the United Nations into calling out Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea. It continues to circulate this July as lawmakers proposed to ban the screening of the movie Barbie over a depiction of China’s nine-dash claim in the South China Sea.


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