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Altered photo falsely shows PH, US driving Sino vessels out of Philippines

The Philippine and United States navies have not expelled Chinese ships from the Philippines, contrary to what the thumbnail of a YouTube video claims.

The May 16 post of the PHILIPPINE NEWS CHANNEL featured a doctored photo of U.S. and Philippine vessels seemingly driving away Chinese fleets with the headline:

KAKAPASOK LANG Malalang GuL0 to! Mga CHlNESE LUMAYAS nasa Pilipinas Amerika Niyari na Ang CHlNA iyak (Just in. This is serious trouble. China has left the Philippines. America has finished it and made China cry)

The text overlays on the thumbnail read “CHINA LUMAYAS NA, P.H. AT U.S. NAVY’S TINAPOS ANG CHINA IYAK (China has retreated, PH and US navies have finished and left China crying)” on the upper portion and “UMATRAS NA! NAGDEKLARA NA (They have retreated! They have already declared)!” on the bottom part, falsely implying that the altered photo depicts a recent naval encounter between the countries in Philippine waters.

A reverse image search revealed that the original photo was taken by the Russian Defence Ministry on Oct. 6, 2021 during a major military drill in the central part of the Pacific Ocean. The operation was done in line with the Agile Dagger 2021 military exercise of the U.S. which aimed to “assess combat readiness and test the potential of the combined forces."

Sputnik Mediabank, Russia’s biggest digitized and attributed photo archive, uploaded the photo on the same day under the package titled “Russia Pacific Ocean Military Drills” and captioned it:

This handout video grab released by the Russian Defence Ministry shows an aerial view of an operational exercise of diverse fleet forces taking place in the central part of the Pacific Ocean. Up to 20 surface ships, submarines and support vessels, and around 20 planes, including long-range anti-submarine aircraft and interceptor fighters, take part in the exercise. 

The altered version of the image was cropped and mirrored. Images of the Chinese, Philippine and U.S. flags were also superimposed to make it seem as if the ships owned by China were being confronted by the vessels of the latter two.

The post surfaced after the 2024 Balikatan exercises held by the Philippines and the U.S. from April 22 to May 10. 

The annual joint military training aims to strengthen the two countries’ military “bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation,” according to the US Army, and not to expel Chinese vessels from the Philippines.

This was affirmed on April 18 by Armed Forces spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla who told reporters that the exercises are “not directed towards any specific nation.” He said:

This longstanding initiative, spanning several years, is aimed at enhancing cooperation, fostering training opportunities, and strengthening regional stability.

The PHILIPPINE NEWS CHANNEL’s video has garnered over 54,500 views, 1,000 likes and 93 comments as of writing. 

Created in December 2014, the channel has garnered 47,960,591 views and more than 495,000 subscribers, and had been fact-checked by VERA Files for another video claiming that Germany deployed ships to the West Philippine Sea and clashed with Chinese Navy vessels. (EM)


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