Fact checks on public officials

MISSING CONTEXT: Carpio’s conflicting statements about Panatag Shoal

Rappler
MISSING CONTEXT: Carpio’s conflicting statements about Panatag Shoal
Carpio has been a consistent advocate of the West Philippine Sea, even before the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in 2013
At a glance
  • Claim: Retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio said conflicting statements in 2018 and 2021 about the Philippines’ sovereign rights over Panatag Shoal, according to a graphic that circulated on social media.
  • Rating: MISSING CONTEXT
  • The facts: Carpio said in 2018 that the Philippines could not invoke sovereign rights over Panatag Shoal just yet because the 2016 Hague ruling did not settle the territorial dispute due to lack of jurisdiction. Carpio has been a consistent advocate of the West Philippine Sea, even before the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in 2013
  • Why we fact-checked this: Several readers emailed the claim to Rappler for verification. 
Complete details

A graphic that circulated on social media claimed that retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio flip-flopped on his stance about the Panatag Shoal (also known as Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc) by saying conflicting statements in 2018 and 2021.

Facebook page “VOVph” posted the graphic on Sunday, May 9. It claimed that Carpio said the following statements in 2018: “The Philippines cannot invoke sovereign rights over WPS (West Philippine Sea). The ruling says that Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino and Chinese fishermen.”

The graphic then put it side by side with the statement made by Carpio in 2021: “Defend Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights in WPS. [President Rodrigo] Duterte allowed China to fish in the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.”

“VOVph” said in its caption, “Carpio should debate Carpio.” This came after Duterte backed out of a debate to which he himself had challenged Carpio.

Another Facebook page called “The Manila Paper” reposted the graphic on the same day and captioned it: “CARPIO VS CARPIO |  How an incoming election change some people like a snake’s skin.”

This lacks context.

Carpio was referring to the 2016 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) when he said in 2018 that the Philippines couldn’t invoke sovereign rights over Panatag Shoal just yet. This was because the PCA did not settle the territorial dispute over Panatag Shoal due to its lack of jurisdiction to rule on sovereignty issues.

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This was also mentioned in the June 2018 article from online tabloid Tempo, which “VOVph” used as its source. The graphic left out this important context to make it look like Carpio flip-flopped on his stance when, in fact, Carpio has consistently pushed for the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, where Panatag Shoal is located.

Carpio is a prominent advocate of the West Philippine Sea and is also one of the key figures who built the Philippines’ arbitration case against China in 2013.

In 2014, Carpio pushed for the protection of the country’s marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone. He also debunked China’s “historical lies” and claims about the South China Sea in a speech in June 2014.

After receiving the 2016 ruling, Carpio advocated for the establishment of ground rules over the Panatag Shoal between China and the Philippines to avoid overfishing by the Chinese and to protect Filipino fishermen.

Carpio also suggested filing another case against China in June 2018 after the China Coast Guard’s harassment of Filipino fishermen in Panatag Shoal. He also urged the Duterte government to sue China for destroying coral reefs in the area to harvest giant clams.

In 2019, Carpio urged the Duterte administration to stop its “defeatist attitude” in asserting the country’s rights against China in the West Philippine Sea. He also offered at least six ways the government could enforce the 2016 PCA ruling. (READ: Carpio rebuts Duterte, offers at least 6 ways to enforce Hague ruling)

Meanwhile, the Duterte government has consistently downplayed the 2016 ruling and, instead, allowed China to fish in the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Philippines loses to China 3 years after Hague ruling)

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MISSING CONTEXT: Philippines lost Scarborough Shoal

MISSING CONTEXT: Philippines lost Scarborough Shoal

Several readers emailed the graphic with missing context for verification. As of writing, the post by “VOVph” has over 2,100 shares, 2,700 reactions, and 330 comments on Facebook.

Rappler has fact-checked posts from “VOVph” several times, including claims that former president Corazon Aquino is to blame for the media ownership provision in the Constitution and that businessman Gabby Lopez is an American citizen. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.