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Claim: The Philippines has created a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-like alliance in response to China’s hostility in the West Philippine Sea.
Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the title and thumbnail of a YouTube video posted by Boss Balita TV, which has gained 35,000 views and 1,300 likes as of writing. The channel that posted the video has 342,000 subscribers and has been fact-checked by Rappler multiple times.
The video’s title reads: “PBBM BINULAGA ANG CHINA! PINAS GUMAWA NG N.A.T.O! MATINDING TAPATAN ITO! MALAKING SAMPAL SA CHINA!”
(PBBM stuns China! Philippines establishes NATO! This is a fierce showdown! A huge slap on China!)
In the video, a narrator claims that the US, Japan, and Australia are collaborating to form a NATO-like group in the Philippines.
The facts: There are no announcements from Malacañang or reports from reputable news sources regarding any supposed order or plan for the Philippines to establish a NATO-like security alliance.
The video only showed clips of an August 18 news conference at Camp David with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korean leader Yoon Suk-yeol, and an unrelated clip of a February 2023 media interview with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
About NATO: NATO is a military alliance of 31 countries across North America and Europe, formed in 1949 through the Washington Treaty. Its purpose is to “guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.” This means that members agree to help each other if attacked, as stated under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
Contrary to the claim made in the video’s title, the Philippines cannot be part of NATO because, as the name suggests, it is not part of the North Atlantic area. NATO membership is open to European states that can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic.
Joint drills: The video used clips from the Camp David conference to imply the three leaders’ involvement in forming the supposed NATO-like alliance. The clips were accompanied by a voice-over from a news report on a proposed trilateral naval drill to be conducted by the US, Japan, and Australia in the South China Sea.
According to a report by ABC News, the naval drill aims to show the three countries’ commitment to the rule of law in the region after the recent incidents of Chinese maritime aggression against the Philippines. The drill will reportedly include the deployment of aircraft carriers sailing together in a show of force.
Amid reports that the Philippines was excluded from these drills, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) clarified that it did not receive an invitation to join the naval exercises.
Washington Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh also said there was no “exclusionary purpose” in the Philippines not receiving an invite, saying that it was “just one instance of this being a trilateral exercise with just these three countries.”
These developments came after the August 5 incident in which Chinese vessels blocked and fired water cannons at Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea.
Support for Manila: The US, Japan, and Australia have previously conducted joint naval drills to reinforce their alliance with the Philippines. In June, the Japan Coast Guard participated in a trilateral maritime exercise with the Philippine Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard to strengthen interoperability between the three. Last year, the AFP held two naval exercises with the US and Australia. The AFP is currently engaged in its first-ever bilateral amphibious drills with the Australian Defense Force, Exercise Alon 2023, which kicked off on August 14.
The three countries have also expressed their support for the 2016 Hague ruling that upheld the Philippines’ territorial rights in its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim over most of the South China Sea.
Since the water cannon incident, numerous misleading claims have come up, which Rappler has debunked:
- FACT CHECK: Video of China’s South China Sea missile drills not new
- FACT CHECK: US not involved in water cannon incident in West Philippine Sea
- FACT CHECK: PH not under martial law after China water cannon incident
- FACT CHECK: No promise from Germany to defend PH against China
- FACT CHECK: No orders from Marcos expelling Chinese envoy to PH
– 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.
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