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Photo of French frigate doctored, passed off as aid to PH

The French government did not donate its strongest warships to the Philippines, especially the light-patrol frigate Véndemiaire (F734), contrary to the claim of a YouTube video. 

The thumbnail of a video posted by TECH-89M on May 18 featured a doctored photo showing two Véndemiaire ships flying not only French but also Philippine flags as though the vessels belonged to the Philippine Navy.

The thumbnail and the headline falsely said France had donated dozens of warships to the Philippines:

Nag-ambag ang France ng (dose-dosenang) Pinakamalakas nitong Bapor Pandigma sa Hukbong dagat ng (Pilipinas) (France donated dozens of its strongest warships to the Philippine Navy).

At the 0:27 mark, the video identified the ships as the Véndemiaire:

Sa isang palatandaan ng internasyonal na kooperasyon at pagkakaisa, ang France ay nag-donate ng dose-dosenang French frigate Véndemiaire na mga barkong pandigma sa Philippine Navy (To mark international cooperation and solidarity, France has donated dozens of French frigate Véndemiaire warships to the Philippine Navy).

A reverse image search traces the original photo to a 2017 brochure of Babcock, a New Zealand-based ship repair and engineering facility that refitted the Véndemiaire for 16 weeks that year before it returned to its base in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.

The video was uploaded more than a week after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. welcomed the French government’s intention to join multilateral maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea. 

Neither Marcos nor the Philippine Navy’s Facebook and X  (formerly Twitter) accounts mentioned a ship donation from France. 

The only of its kind, the 1992 Véndemiaire unit is still in service to the French government alongside five Floréal-class frigates:  Floréal (F730), Prairal (F731), Nivôse (F732), Ventôse (F733) and Germinal (F735). 

TECH-89M’s video also included several clips of the frigate docked at a port, erroneously identified as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, purportedly for the handover ceremony. It said at 0:55 mark:

Ang pormal na handover ceremony ay ginawa sa Subic Bay Freeport Zone [...] na nagsisilbing strategic hub para sa Philippine Navy (The formal handover ceremony was done in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which serves as a strategic hub for the Philippine Navy).

A reverse image search shows the clips were of the French Navy’s port call in Manila in March 2022  for a joint exercise with the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard in intercepting boats involved in illegal drugs. 

The video also incorrectly said Marcos and French Ambassador Michèle Boccoz participated in the ceremony:

Dumalo sa kaganapan ang matataas na opisyal mula sa dalawang bansa, kabilang ang pangulo ng Pilipinas na si Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at ang ambassador ng France sa Pilipinas na si Michèle Boccoz (Two of the highest officials in the country joined the ceremony, including President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Ambassador of France to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz).

Since September 2023, the French ambassador to the Philippines has been Marie Fontanel, not Michèle Boccoz who served as envoy from 2021 to 2023. 

Although it did not donate frigates to the Philippines, Fontanel recently said the two countries were eyeing negotiations for a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

The video has gained at least 33,000 views, 500 likes and 70 comments. 

The channel, created in 2019 and with more than 31,000 subscribers, has been fact-checked by FactRakers for two other videos. One falsely claimed that the British navy had provided “humanitarian aid” to the Philippines and the other misalleged that the Japanese navy had donated its strongest ship to the country. (HS)


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