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Video falsely claims Air Force has not visibly flown in 36 years

Aircraft from the Philippine Air Force have flown multiple times since dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was ousted 36 years ago, contrary to a claim in a viral TikTok video that they only reappeared at this year’s Philippine independence day celebration.

The video, uploaded on June 12, bore a sticker that reads:

After so many years since Marcos Era ngayon lang ulit nasilayan ang paglipad ng Philippine Air force (the Philippine Air Force was seen in the air again now)!

The uploader, queenthings8, credited PAF’s reappearance to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) in the comments section, saying:

Sa mga nakaka misinterpret after almost 35yrs si PRRD po dahilan kung bakit andyan ulit ‘yan as in ngayon lang ulit sa ika-124th independence day (To those who are misinterpreting this, after almost 35 years, PRRD is the reason they are there. As in, it’s only been now, on the 124th independence day).

Several news organizations, however, reported that the last aircraft flyby event or showcase happened in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the halt of such events in the past two years.

PAF records show that its aircraft had flown over 145,000 hours between 2002 and 2007. It had also made several flybys in national ceremonies, exercises and military operations from Marcos’ ouster in February 1986 to the beginning of Duterte’s term in 2016.

T-28D and F-5 planes from the PAF’s 15th Strike Unit responded during coup attempts against ex-President Corazon Aquino in 1987 and 1989. The unit’s MD-520MG attack helicopters also struck against insurgent groups in 1991.

Meanwhile, the PAF’s now inactive aerobatic performance team Blue Diamonds was revived in 1995, starring in national ceremonies in 1996, the Independence Day centennial in 1998, and the air force’s 52nd anniversary in 1999.

International aviation organizations tallied at least six flights by PAF planes from 1990 to 2000 that ended in crashes. The PAF also conducted rescue operations from disasters between 1987 and 2016, such as the 1990 Baguio earthquake, 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption and multiple typhoons.

Under ex-President Benigno Aquino III (2010-16), the PAF has appeared in national occasions such as the celebration of Rizal Day in 2015 and Independence Day in 2016. Events within the PAF were are marked with airshows, such as the air force’s anniversary in 2012 and its alumni homecoming in 2015.

PAF aircraft also participate in regular Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises between the armed forces of the Philippines and the U.S.

At the 124th Independence Day celebration, PAF’s FA-50 jet fighters kicked off the flag-raising ceremony releasing smoke in the colors of the Philippine flag. The PAF’s other helicopters and light attack aircraft also joined the flyby.

Over 30 air assets participated in the event, according to PAF.

The TikTok video, with more than 180,000 likes and 1,000 shares over nearly two million views as of writing, spliced clips from three old videos of the PAF. One is a clip of the Pacific Weapons Conference in 1959, which was codenamed “Operation Flying Brothers.” Another is a clip of the Philippine Aviation Week in 1958.

The uploaders dated their videos to the late 1950s, before Marcos’ term began in 1965. The clip also featured an old video from TikTok user soldiers_0, which has since been deleted.

The video also juxtaposed a clip from user jamesargelcamacho uploaded on June 10, which shows the PAF preparing on June 8 for their flyby performance on Independence Day.

The TikTok video was reposted on YouTube, where it received over 100,000 views and 4,800 views as of writing. It was also reuploaded on different Twitter accounts, the most viral of which received nearly 4,000 views as of writing. (RP and GD)

(This fact check has been updated with additional information. -- Ed.)


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