Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: Defense chief Gibo Teodoro did not declare war on China


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FACT CHECK: Defense chief Gibo Teodoro did not declare war on China
Teodoro only called for more military presence in Batanes, the Philippine island closest to democratically-governed Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory

Claim: Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. declared war on China.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the title and thumbnail of a YouTube video posted on February 11, which has gained 49,116 views, 1,300 likes, and 419 comments as of writing. 

The video’s title reads: Nag panic na China! PBBM nagulat kay Gibo! Nagdeklara ng pananakop! May magaganap na gyera dito!” (China panics! PBBM surprised by Gibo! [He] declared war! There will be a war here!)

The bottom line: No official statements from Teodoro nor the Department of National Defense (DND) support the video’s claim. 

The video’s narrator merely talked about China’s warning to the Philippines on the issue of Taiwan, a democratically-governed island that China claims as part of its territory, following Teodoro’s order to heighten military presence in Batanes, the Philippines’ northernmost island province closest to Taiwan

Teodoro made the order following his visit to the military’s naval detachment on Mavulis Island on February 6.

In a statement, the Naval Forces Northern Luzon said the defense chief also “called for the development of more structures, noting that Batanes is the ‘spearhead’ of the Philippines as far as the northern baseline is concerned.”

In line with Teodoro’s orders, Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Roy Galido said Batanes residents are being urged to become Army reservists. However, Galido emphasized that the military is not planning to deploy the reservists, but is only “encouraging” Filipinos in Batanes to “volunteer, to be [a] patriot and be a reservist.”

Galido added that Batanes residents could help inform the military amid the ongoing hostilities between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea.

China-Taiwan relations: Teodoro’s order to boost military presence in Batanes drew criticism from China, which warned the Philippines not to “play with fire” on the issue of Taiwan. 

In a statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told the Philippines to “tread carefully.”

“I want to stress again that the Taiwan question is at the heart of China’s core interests and is a red line and bottom line that must not be crossed,” he added. 

In response, the DND said: “Batanes is Philippine territory and China has no business warning the Philippines about what it does within its territory.”

Beijing issued a similar warning to Manila in January, after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. congratulated Taiwan’s president-elect Lai Ching-te on his election victory. China said Marcos’ remarks constitute a violation of the One China principle and a “gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”

The Philippines’ foreign affairs department, however, reaffirmed the country’s  One China policy, under which the Philippines recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole Chinese government. Andrei Santos/Rappler.com

Andrei Santos is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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.

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