Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: PH not returning US missile system just to ‘appease China’


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FACT CHECK: PH not returning US missile system just to ‘appease China’
The US missile system was scheduled to be pulled out in September as planned, but its deployment may be extended depending on the training needs of Filipino troops

Claim: To appease China, the Philippines will return a missile system deployed by the US last April as part of military drills between Filipino and US troops.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The video bearing the claim was posted on July 4 by the YouTube channel “Historiador Filipino,” which has over one million subscribers. As of writing, the video has garnered 67,122 views, 2,000 likes, and 1,286 comments.

The title of the video states: “Pinas isasauli na lang sa Amerika ang missile pang depensa para huwag na magalit ang China (Philippines will return to the US its missile system used for defense to appease China).” 

Text on the thumbnail says: “Pinas, kinabahan sa China, isasauli na sa Amerika ang missile na pang-depensa (Philippines got scared of China, will return US missiles intended for defense)” 

The bottom line: The US midrange missile system “Typhon” was originally reported to have been pulled out of the Philippines in September as scheduled, and not because the Philippines wants to appease China. 

The video’s commentator provided no evidence to support the claim that the return of the missile system was intended to avoid inflaming tensions with Beijing. The narrator merely expressed his opinion on the importance of acquiring military equipment to defend the country. “Payag ka bang huwag na tayong magpalakas ng armas para hindi tayo gyerahin ng China?” the commentator said. 

(Do you agree that we should not strengthen our military capability so China won’t wage war on us?) 


Extension possible: Philippine Army spokesperson Louie Dema-ala earlier said that the Typhon missile launcher remains in the Philippines’ northern islands and will be “shipped out” by September

On July 8, Dema-ala clarified that there is no specific date for the withdrawal of the missile system and that its deployment may be extended. This will depend on the evaluation of the Salaknib training, a joint ongoing military exercise between the Philippines and the US, which is set to conclude in September.

“After the Salaknib [training], there will be a training evaluation to see if the objectives of the exercise have been met. If these objectives are not yet achieved, it’s possible that this deployment will continue,” he said in Filipino.

Military drills: The US mid-range missile system, which can fire Tomahawk land attack and SM-6 missiles, arrived in the Philippines in April for the first phase of the Salaknib joint exercise. It was also part of the annual Balikatan or “shoulder-to-shoulder” military drills between Filipino and American troops. 

In June, the Typhon missile system was spotted in a military base in Laoag City for a Salaknib exercise.

China previously condemned the missile deployment, saying it “brought huge risks of war into the region.” It also criticized the Balikatan exercises, warning of destabilization when countries outside the region “flex muscles and stoke confrontation.” Philippine and US officials, however, stressed that the annual drills are meant to improve interoperability between their forces and are not directed at any third country. (WATCH: Rappler Recap: PH, US troops prepare for ‘worst-case scenario’ in Balikatan drills)

US support: The US, the Philippines’ treaty ally, has offered support amid worsening tensions in the region, with China continuing to reject the 2016 Hague ruling dismissing its sweeping claims over the entire South China Sea.

Rappler has published several fact-check articles on claims about Philippine-US relations: 

– Jene Pangue/Rappler.com 

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