VERA FILES FACT CHECK: PH Navy did NOT fire at Chinese ships in Scarborough


A video posted on YouTube and Facebook (FB) used an altered photo to claim that the Philippine Navy had fired warning shots at Chinese vessels in Scarborough Shoal on Aug. 9. No such incident took place. 

The original photo was taken from a report about a failed missile launch during a 2015 U.S. Navy drill. 

First uploaded on Aug. 13, the video bore the headline: 

BARKO NG CHINA NAGIMBAL! China Coast Guard KUMARIPAS NG PAPUTUKAN Ng PH Navy Sa Scarborough (Chinese ship was shocked! China Coast guard hurried off after the Philippine Navy fired at them in Scarborough Shoal)!” 

The video’s thumbnail also contained the text: “CHINA NAKATIKIM SA PHILIPPINE NAVY. PILIPINAS PINAPUTUKAN ANG BARKO NG CHINA NA PUMAPASOK SA SCARBOROUGH! (China had a taste of the Philippine Navy. Philippines fired at a Chinese ship entering Scarborough)” along with a photo of a ship supposedly firing multiple missiles beside another vessel. 

The photo was edited. Reverse image search showed there is no Chinese coast guard vessel as well as a Philippine flag attached to the ship in the original photo. 

The original image used in the video was taken on July 18, 2015, and it actually showed missiles exploding over USS The Sullivans after its failed launch during a naval exercise off the Atlantic Coast. The photo was from a U.S. Naval Institute News report on the incident. 

There is also no official announcement from the Philippine Navy that the purported incident took place, whether for a drill or for real.

The erroneous video emerged a week after Chinese coast guard ships fired water cannons at Philippine Coast Guard boats set to resupply the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. 

Uploaded by verified YouTube channel Terong Explained with 423,000 subscribers, the video received 78,000 views and 2,600 likes. FB users also reposted the link. 

A day later, FB page Ukraine fights reposted the video which garnered 2,600 views, 143 reactions, 11 comments and 18 shares. 

VERA Files Fact Check has previously flagged both accounts for sharing military-related disinformation. 


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