Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: Photo of PH Navy supply airdrop is from 2021 Christmas mission


This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

FACT CHECK: Photo of PH Navy supply airdrop is from 2021 Christmas mission
An image circulating on social media showing air-dropped packages in the West Philippine Sea is ‘not related to any current events,’ the Armed Forces of the Philippines says

Claim: A social media post shows the Philippine Navy air-dropping packages onto the BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) in Ayungin Shoal.


Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook post containing the claim was posted on June 23 by a page with 54,000 followers, and has 2,300 shares, 7,000 comments, and 53,000 reactions as of writing. The same Facebook page has made similar posts related to the West Philippine Sea.

The photo shows naval helicopter AgustaWestland 109 (AW109) dropping packages to crew members aboard the BRP Sierra Madre. The caption reads: “Package air drop at BRP Sierra Madre (LS57) in Ayungin Shoal.”

The timing of the post implies that the supply drop was made recently amid heightened tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea, including a recent act of Chinese harassment in Ayungin Shoal.

Aircraft, Helicopter, Transportation, BRP Sierra Madre

The facts: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday, June 25, clarified that the photo circulating on social media was taken years ago and is unrelated to current events. 

“Please note that this social media post circulating online features a photo from December 26, 2021 article during a Christmas mission in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and is not related to any current events,” the AFP said in a Facebook post.

The AFP urged social media users to verify information and provide proper context before sharing online, as misleading posts can “create confusion and contribute to misinformation.”


2021 mission: In December 2021, the Philippine Navy undertook a Christmas mission to deliver goods and cheer to military personnel stationed on various islands in the Kalayaan Island Group. Christmas packages were delivered to troops stationed at the Rizal Reef Detachment and those onboard the BRP Sierra Madre, the grounded vessel that serves as the Philippines’ outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

Maritime tensions: The photo was posted following China’s aggressive actions against the Philippines, including recent incidents of harassment and blockades of resupply missions. On June 17, the China Coast Guard rammed a Philippine vessel during a routine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, resulting in the injury of a Filipino soldier. The Philippine government has filed a protest against China over this latest hostile act.

Tensions between the two countries have been escalating due to China’s persistent assertion of its claims over nearly the entire South China Sea. A 2016 arbitral ruling largely favoring Manila and rejecting Beijing’s sweeping claims within its 9-dash-line has not been recognized by China. (READ: [EXPLAINER] South China Sea: Why are China and Philippines tensions heating up?)

Rappler has previously debunked false claims related to the South China Sea issue:

– Quincy Reyes/Rappler.com

Quincy Reyes is a research volunteer at Rappler. He is a recent graduate from Fordham University having double-majored in journalism and film and television.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to the #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!