VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post praising Duterte, Marcos Jr. for AFP modernization MISLEADS


A photo collage of naval vessels with a caption thanking President Rodrigo Duterte and in “advance,” former senator and presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is misleading Facebook (FB) netizens. The post included photos of a submarine, frigates, and other vessels.

The modernization of the country’s armed forces is an effort spearheaded by former President Fidel V. Ramos through Republic Act (R.A.) 7898. It was amended in 2012 through R.A. 10349 under the term of the late president Benigno Aquino III, which extended the program for another 15 years and allotted at least P75 billion for its first five years.

In July 2021, the AFP reported that under Duterte’s term the agency completed a total of 54 projects under R.A. 7898, and 70 were delivered under R.A. 10349.

VERA Files Fact Check examined each image and found that only one featured a ship currently in the AFP’s fleet inventory. Find out what the photos were in the misleading post.

No submarines in PH fleet

The Philippine Navy told VERA Files Fact Check that while it has plans to acquire submersibles to boost its fleet, it currently has no submarines. (See related fact check: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: The Philippines did NOT purchase two Russian submarines)

The post misleadingly used an image (Photo #5) of a Scorpene-class diesel submarine docked at a shipyard in Cherbourg, France, on Oct. 21, 2003. The photo was taken by Agence France-Presse photojournalist Mychele Daniau and published in reports by Business Insider, Egypt Today, and Radio France Internationale.

In July 2019, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government is eyeing the French-made submarine for its submarine acquisition program.

Egyptian Navy’s ship shown

One of the eight photos (#3) shows a Pohang-class corvette (a small warship) named ROK Jinju, donated by South Korea to the Egyptian Navy. The image appeared on the Egyptian Armed Forces’ official FB page in October 2017.

The Philippine government received a different Pohang-class corvette in 2019, also donated by the South Korean government. It has been named the BRP Conrado Yap.

Other ships not yet acquired

Two photos (#2 and #4) show digital renderings of offshore patrol vessels (OVPs) by Australian shipbuilder Austal, taken from the company’s website. The government is looking to finalize the procurement of six OVPs from Austal worth P30 billion.

Meanwhile, another photo (#8) shows the landing dock HDL-7000 made by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). Max Montero, chief writer of the defense-focused blog MaxDefense, tweeted a photo of HDL-7000 on Nov. 16, 2021, saying the South Korean company expressed an interest in bidding for the Philippine Navy’s landing dock acquisition project. However, there was no confirmation on whether or not the company submitted a bid.

Another image (#9) showed HHI’s corvette called HDC-31000. In July 2021, MaxDefense wrote that the ship’s design was offered to the Navy for its corvette acquisition project. The Department of National Defense and HHI inked a deal for two corvettes on Dec. 28, 2021.

Another graphic illustration shown

The largest image (#7) is a digital illustration of a submarine, helicopter, boats, and different ships. VERA Files Fact Check failed to trace the original copy but found a similar image on two defense-related sites that claim it shows the “armada” of the Navy.

Acquired but not yet delivered

Another photo (#1) shows a Shaldag MK V fast patrol boat of the shipbuilding company Israel Shipbuilders. The Navy acquired eight such patrol boats in May 2021 for P10 billion, with the first three units set to arrive in the first quarter of 2022.

Copies of the photo could be found in three defense-related websites.

Acquired and currently in the fleet

One image (#6), taken from the AFP’s official FB page, showed the BRP Davao del Sur during a fleet inspection on Dec. 16, 2020.

The collage found on the FB page Sir Jack Show (created on Sept. 29, 2017) got 3,400 reactions, 163 comments, and 94 shares. It was published on Jan. 18, four days after Lorenzana confirmed the government’s purchase of BrahMos missiles worth US$374 million from India.

In the comment section, some netizens praised Marcos and Duterte while others pointed out that the vessels’ acquisition was part of the Aquino administration’s “long-term” modernization program.

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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.)