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100 PH boats not deployed to attack Chinese vessels

A 100-boat Filipino civilian convoy sailed on May 15 to peacefully assert sovereignty over Panatag Shoal located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, contrary to a YouTube video thumbnail falsely showing Philippine and American vessels firing at Chinese ships in the South China Sea.

The baseless post of The Military Update on May 16 came a day after activists and volunteers from the nongovernment coalition Atin Ito mobilized the fleet of 100 small boats to distribute food packs and fuel to Filipino fishermen near the disputed shoal.

In a press conference before their three-day voyage, Atin Ito co-convener Rafaela David said:

Our mission is peaceful based on international law and aimed at asserting our sovereign rights. We will sail with determination, not provocation, to civilianize the region and safeguard our territorial integrity.

It is the second Filipino mission aimed at normalizing civilian entry to the West Philippine Sea following incidents where Philippine vessels were blasted by China’s water cannons. 

However, The Military Update’s post featured a manipulated photo of U.S. and Philippine boats attacking a Chinese warship with the headline and text overlay:

 Tension Today: US and Philippines Send 100 Destroyers to Shoot Chinese Ships in the South China Sea

The YouTube channel merged two photos, one of the USS Chafee and its clone and the other of the Macondo Well Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It also inserted a Chinese flag and a ship to the second image. 

A reverse image search revealed that the original photo of the USS Chafee launching a Tomahawk or long-range missile was taken by U.S. Navy ensign Sean Ianno during a missile exercise in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 1, 2020 and posted on the U.S. Department of Defense website. 

The photo of the blowout of the Macondo Well, which caused a massive oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, was published on the Pennsylvania State University website and credited to the US defense department. It resembles the picture taken by the Associated Press that year and posted by The Guardian, among others.

China seized the Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, after an intense standoff with Philippine vessels in 2012. 

It continues to intrude into the Philippines' EEZ despite the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Arbitration Court at the Hague, which recognized the Philippines’ claim to the West Philippine Sea.

The Military Update’s video has garnered over 9,400 views and 100 likes as of press time. Created in March 2017, the channel has accumulated 223,799 views and over 213,000 subscribers. (KS).


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