West Philippine Sea

FACT CHECK: No reports of Philippine Air Force destroying China’s drone in Pag-asa Island


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FACT CHECK: No reports of Philippine Air Force destroying China’s drone in Pag-asa Island
The last time a Chinese drone was spotted over the West Philippine Sea was in 2014. There are no recent official reports or statements on the Philippine Air Force firing a missile at a Chinese drone.

CLAIM: Using an air-to-air missile, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) destroyed a Chinese drone hovering over Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The video bearing the claim was posted on October 8 by YouTube channel “PH TV,” which has 326,000 subscribers. 

The video has so far garnered 41,784 views, 1,500 likes, and 188 comments. 

According to the narrator, military personnel stationed on Pag-asa Island spotted a Chinese drone conducting surveillance in the area, posing a “huge threat” to the island.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) supposedly issued a statement asserting that China does not have the right to deploy a military drone over the island’s airspace without the Philippine government’s approval. 

The narrator claimed that the incident prompted the PAF to destroy the drone using an air-to-air missile. 

Aircraft, Airplane, Jet

The facts: The video did not show any proof to support its claim. The alleged incident was also not reported in the official and verified Facebook pages of the Department of National Defense, AFP, or PAF. There were also no reports from the media confirming the supposed incident. 

The image of a jet firing a missile featured in the video was a stock photo of a light combat aircraft manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries for the Korean Air Force.

No recent incident: The last time a Chinese drone was spotted over the West Philippine Sea was in 2014. According to a Philippine Star article, soldiers stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal spotted some drones around the area. At the time, the military also reported the increased presence of Chinese vessels in areas within Philippine territory.

Pag-asa Island: Pag-asa Island, internationally known as Thitu, is considered the lone barangay of Palawan’s municipality of Kalayaan. The island is located 14 nautical miles away from Zamora Reef (Subi Reef), which China has transformed into a full-fledged military base. 

The misleading video was posted a few days after the visit of House Speaker Martin Romualdez and other leaders to the island. Amid recent reports of fisherfolk suffering poor catch because of large foreign vessels in the area, the House of Representatives pledged to allocate funds to construct infrastructure on the island.  

Rising tensions: China’s aggressive actions have continued as it refuses to recognize the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its sweeping claims over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Last August, a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel trailed, blocked, and then pointed water cannons at Philippine ships en route to Ayungin Shoal. China had also been suspected of massive coral harvesting in the West Philippine Sea, and had put up floating barriers at the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal. 

On October 4, a CCG ship again harassed Philippine vessels during a routine resupply mission. The Chinese vessel cut across the path of a Philippine Coast Guard ship as it was escorting AFP-commissioned boats heading to the BRP Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ outpost on Ayungin Shoal. 

Previous false claims: Rappler has fact-checked similar claims about military activities in the West Philippine Sea:

– James Patrick Cruz/Rappler.com

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