Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: No US Navy attack on Chinese warships in Panatag Shoal


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FACT CHECK: No US Navy attack on Chinese warships in Panatag Shoal
The US was not involved in Atin Ito coalition’s civilian mission to Panatag Shoal earlier in May

Claim: The United States Navy hit Chinese warships during civil society group Atin Ito’s mission to sail towards Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim is titled, “Brutal Attack! US Ally Navy Hits China Warships in Scarborough Shoal.” As of writing, it has 12,254 views and 250 likes. 

Facts: No reports from official sources confirm the supposed attack and the video does not provide any proof to support its claim. 

The US embassy in the Philippines, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of National Defense have not released any reports confirming the claim on their official Facebook pages.

The misleading video cited an INQUIRER.net report about the withdrawal of Chinese vessels from Panatag Shoal following the civilian-led mission by the Atin Ito coalition there from May 15 to 17. The report did not mention the US Navy hitting Chinese warships, contrary to the claim.

Footage from Atin Ito showed a Chinese Coast Guard ship tailing the convoy but there were no reports of any direct confrontation.


US not present: No US Navy ships were present during the civilian convoy. The Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Bagacay, BRP Boracay, and BRP Panglao escorted the convoy. (READ: What you need to know: Civilian mission to Panatag Shoal

Civilian convoy: Atin Ito’s convoy had a total of 107 participants consisting of several organizations including the following:

  • New Masinloc Fishermen’s Associations
  • Subic Commercial Fishing Association Incorporated
  • Mabayo Agri Aqua Association
  • Pambansang Katipunan ng Samahan sa Kanayunan
  • Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka
  • Center for Agrarian Reform, Empowerment and Transformation 
  • Akbayan Youth
  • Student Council Alliance of the Philippines

Fisherfolk, commercial fishing vessels, and deep sea fishing vessels also joined the convoy.

This was the second civilian mission of Atin Ito in the West Philippine Sea. Akbayan president Rafaela David, one of the lead convenors of the coalition, said that the mission sought to “normalize and regularize civilian access” in the West Philippine Sea to counter China’s own militarization of the area.

The coalition’s first mission in December 2023 aimed to bring supplies to the Philippine military and PCG outposts in the West Philippine Sea. However, the trip was cut short after China’s constant tailing.

Rising tensions: China’s continued assertion of its claims over the entire South China Sea – despite a 2016 arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines – has led to heightened tensions in the region.

The PCG’s BRP Boracay, one of Atin Ito’s escorts in the civilian convoy, was recently damaged when China used water cannons against the ship on April 30, 2024. – Lorenz Pasion/Rappler.com

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