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Old photo of Chinese vessels misused to depict latest swarm in Julian Felipe Reef

A Facebook page omitted to mention it used a 2-year-old photo of Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels at the disputed Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in 2021 in a post about a recent Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) report of the increasing presence of Chinese vessels swarming the reef.

Written atop the misleading photo uploaded on Dec. 6 by Truth Prevails is a headline attributed to GMA Integrated News' report published on Dec. 3 which reads, “PCG: More than 135 Chinese vessels spotted off Julian Felipe Reef.”


The photo was accompanied by the caption: 

This is just an insignificant example of how far China has gone with its bullying. China is attempting further to force us to give up our legal claim to Julian Felipe Reef as a result of these unmanned ships. Although they are able to do so, they cannot take away our rights.

A Google reverse image search showed that the photo used by Truth Prevails was published by the Philippine Star in a March 23, 2021 article about a PCG report of the sighting of 183 Chinese vessels on the Julian Felipe Reef, courtesy of aerial inspections done by the Armed Forces on March 22, 2021.

The Philippine Star reused the photo in a July 23, 2022 article about another sighting of Chinese Coast Guard vessels at the reef and labeled it as a file photo it published on March 23, 2021.

The PCG said in a statement on Dec. 4 that it monitored over 135 CMM vessels near the reef and referred to the increasing number of "dispersed and scattered" Chinese boats as an "alarming development."

Julian Felipe Reef, a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef, is being claimed by the Philippines, China and Vietnam. It is located about 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan, falling within the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. It is 638.23 nautical miles away from Hainan Island in China.

Truth Prevails’ post has accumulated 1,500 shares, 1,000 comments and 918 reactions as of writing. Created on April 16, 2015, the page has roughly 10,000 followers and 9,800 likes. (MJ)


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