Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: Pictures of joint training of Philippine and US soldiers not all from Batanes


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FACT CHECK: Pictures of joint training of Philippine and US soldiers not all from Batanes
Only one of the five pictures claimed to be from Batanes was actually taken there; the others were taken from Palawan, Tarlac, Zambales, and Nueva Ecija

Claim: Pictures show joint training of Philippine and US soldiers in Batanes. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim can be found in a March 15 post on the Facebook account of former broadcaster Jay Sonza, which has around 554 reactions, 123 comments, and 119 shares as of writing.

Along with five pictures of Philippine and US forces training, Sonza described them in the post  as “War Footing Training in Batanes” and also said, “Mas marami pa ang mga sundalong Amerikano, Australian at Pilipino ngayon sa Batanes kaysa sa bilang ng naninirahan sa isla. Ang Batanes ay hindi EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] sites [sic] batay sa opisyal na talaan ng mga EDCA sites in the Philippines.”

(There are more American, Australian, and Filipino soldiers today in Batanes than the number of inhabitants in the island. Batanes is not an EDCA site based on the official list of EDCA sites in the Philippines.)

The facts: Only one out of the five pictures of Philippine and US forces training shown in Sonza’s post was from Batanes.

Here are the places where the pictures in Sonza’s post were taken, according to various sources found with reverse-image searches using Google Images:

  • The picture of a Philippine marine with Heliborne Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team 9 was from Punta Baja, Palawan, according to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service or DVIDS of the US Department of Defense.
  • The picture of the Philippine-US 2022 Balikatan live fire military exercise was from Capas, Tarlac, according to a March 31, 2022, post in the official Facebook page of Philippine Star.
  • The picture of Philippine marines taking their positions after being dislodged by a fast boat was from the San Antonio township in Zambales, according to an April 20, 2015 Inquirer.net article by Agence France-Presse.
  • The picture showing Philippine Army soldiers being taught how to operate an advanced weapons system was from live fire drills in Nueva Ecija, a March 31, 2023 article in the ABS-CBN News website said. 

There was only one photo in Sonza’s post that was taken in Batanes. According to the DVIDS website, the picture of a US Army soldier from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment was from Basco Island, Batanes. It was taken during an amphibious air assault training exercise on Basco Island in Batanes on April 23, 2023.

Previous related fact-checks: Rappler has fact-checked several false claims from Sonza since 2018, with a recent one published on March 11, debunking a claim that said the Philippines has 19 EDCA sites instead of nine. – Percival Bueser/ Rappler.com 

Percival Bueser 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. 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.

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