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VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The evolving statements on the Recto Bank allision: a visual timeline

President Rodrigo Duterte has sided with China in its proposal to conduct a joint probe into the June 9 incident involving an anchored Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomes and accepts the offer of the Chinese Government to conduct a joint investigation to determine what really transpired in Recto Bank and find a satisfactory closure to this episode,” Malacanang announced June 22.

Prior to the Palace announcement, foreign affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin warned against a joint probe, saying it would “intrude” into the “sovereignty of both countries.”

Yet, pending the results of the probe, Duterte described the incident, which could have drowned 22 Filipino fisherfolk in high seas, as a “little maritime incident”. His statement not only drew the ire of critics; it served as a turning point in the seemingly evolving narrative.

On Friday, Duterte likened the incident to a road crash: “Parang bungguan ‘yan sa (It’s just like a road crash on a) highway. It is not a confrontation of armed men and machines or ships.”

“It is not an attack on the country’s sovereignty,” the president said.

In this timeline, VERA Files compiled the evolution of statements on the June 9 incident and the issues surrounding it.

The timeline focused on three issues: if what happened was deliberate or if it was an allision; the abandonment of the 22 Filipino fisherfolk, a violation of international maritime laws; and the Philippines’ position on the joint investigation proposed by China.





Department of National Defense and Philippine Navy

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin




Filipino Fishermen

China government

Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy


President Rodrigo Duterte


Vietnam government


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)