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FACT CHECK: PH has not formed its own version of NATO


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FACT CHECK: PH has not formed its own version of NATO
There are no official announcements about the Philippines establishing its own security alliance ​​similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Claim: The Philippines has formed its version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) amid ongoing Chinese hostility in the West Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a YouTube video posted on April 6, which has 66,529 views, 1,900 likes, and 365 comments as of writing.

The video’s title and thumbnail bear the text “Pilipinas meron [nang] NATO” (The Philippines now has NATO).

The bottom line: There are no official announcements from Malacañang or reports from reputable news sources supporting the claim. The video’s narrator suggests that the upcoming trilateral summit, to be held by the US, Japan, and the Philippines, is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s way of kickstarting a fight with China. 

Marcos will meet with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kushida in Washington on April 11 to discuss economic relations and the Indo-Pacific.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), recent incidents in the West Philippine Sea will be addressed during the meeting. 

“We can expect an alignment of views among the three countries on the recent incidents in the West Philippine Sea. Of course, we will continue to call on peace and stability and the recent incidents be solved in a peaceful and diplomatic manner,” DFA Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs Hans Mohaimin Siriban said in a press briefing.

Siriban clarified that the trilateral cooperation “is not directed at any country,” adding that the primary focus is building the Philippines’ economic resilience by strengthening cooperation with the US and Japan.

“The security environment will also have to be taken into consideration because for economic resilience and economic growth to happen we will also have to take into account the peace and security of the region. In this aspect, the trilateral cooperation also hopes to enhance cooperation in this respect,” Siriban added.

Contrary to the video’s claim, there was no mention of the Philippines forming a NATO-like group. 


About NATO: NATO is a military alliance created in 1949 through the Washington Treaty, consisting of countries across North America and Europe. 

The group was established to “safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security by political and military means.” NATO membership is open to European states that can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic.

Rappler has fact-checked a similar claim, which falsely stated that the US, Japan, and Australia were collaborating to establish a NATO-like group in the Philippines.

South China Sea issue:  The upcoming summit comes amid ongoing Chinese hostility in the West Philippine Sea, as Beijing continues to defy the 2016 Hague ruling in favor of Manila. Last month, the Chinese Coast Guard again used water cannons against a Philippine resupply vessel en route to a military outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

The US and Japan have shown their support to the Philippines. On April 7, the three countries, along with Australia, held their first multilateral maritime cooperative activity (MMCA) in the West Philippine Sea. (READ: View from Manila: A sight to behold as navies of PH, Japan, US and Australia hold sea patrols)

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the MMCA “demonstrated the participating countries’ commitment to strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific through interoperability exercises in the maritime domain.” 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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