FALSE: Media 'did not cover' 2014 water cannon incident in Panatag Shoal
Claim: Media organizations deliberately "ignored" Chinese vessels' use of water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
Last June 19, Facebook user Arnold Bacena posted on the Facebook group "CRUELTY OF NOYNOY 'ABNOY' AQUINO AND HIS GOVERNMENT" a photo of a ship using a water cannon against two smaller vessels in the middle of the sea.
Bacena's caption said the ship was a Chinese vessel that used water cannons on Filipino fishermen's small boats in Panatag Shoal. He said the incident took place in 2014, when former president Benigno Aquino III was still in power.
He claimed in his caption that the "biased media" did not report on the incident and that Aquino did nothing to address the matter.
Bacena's post has been shared over 3,000 times on Facebook as of writing and has received 590 reactions and 46 comments. Rappler spotted the post via CrowdTangle and found 5 other Facebook users who posted the same content from June 19 to 20.
The facts: Bacena used the wrong photo and made a wrong claim about the media.
First, the photo he used was not of a Chinese vessel harassing Filipino fishermen. It was a photo of the Japan Coast Guard using a water cannon against Taiwanese boats in January 2013. (READ: FALSE: A photo of a Chinese ship attacking Philippine boats)
Second, the media, both local and international, published reports about Chinese vessels using water cannons on Filipino boats in Panatag Shoal in 2014. The Aquino administration also filed a diplomatic protest, seeking an explanation from China.
In February 2014, then-Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Emmanuel Bautista had confirmed that the China Coast Guard tried to drive away Filipino fishing vessels from Panatag Shoal by using water cannons on January 27, 2014.
Rappler reported on the issue as soon as Bautista talked about it and released follow-up stories about the Department of Foreign Affairs' protest after the incident, how Vietnam reacted, and how Manila could use the incident in its case against Beijing, among others. Rappler also has a timeline of the Philippines' maritime dispute with China.
Other local news outlets such as the Inquirer, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, and Manila Times reported on the 2014 incident as well. Broadcasting networks GMA and ABS-CBN also published and aired reports about it.
The Philippines' dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea has been going on for years, but it gained wider attention after an incident in 2011. (READ: TIMELINE: Skirmishes, standoffs, harassment in West Philippine Sea)
In 2012, a tense standoff with China resulted in the Aquino administration's loss of effective control over the territory. But the government filed an arbitration case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which it won in 2016. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com
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