Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: Spanish frigate Cristóbal Colón not in PH for maritime cooperation activities


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FACT CHECK: Spanish frigate Cristóbal Colón not in PH for maritime cooperation activities
There are no official reports from Philippine and Spanish authorities announcing the frigate’s arrival in Manila

Claim: Spanish frigate Cristóbal Colón (F-105) is in the Philippines for maritime cooperation activities. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim has over 6,628 views and 130 likes as of writing.

At the video’s 0:27 mark, a narrator says: “Sa isang simbolikong pagpapakita ng kooperasyong pandagat at bilateral na relasyon ang makabagong barkong pandigma ng Spanish Navy, ang Cris Balcon F-105, ay dumating sa Pilipinas ngayon.” 

(In a symbolic show of maritime cooperation and bilateral relations, an advanced Spanish Navy warship, Cris Balcon F-105, arrived in the Philippines.)

The video also says that the frigate, shown to have the pennant number F-105, was docked at the Manila South Harbor.

The bottom line: The clip of the frigate shown in the YouTube video starting at the 0:27 mark was originally from a video by YouTube user Ramón Puig de Llano uploaded on the platform on January 18, 2020. In his video, Llano says he shot Cristóbal Colón’s arrival at La Coruna, a port city in Spain’s Galicia region.

No official reports: The official Facebook pages of the Spanish Navy, Spanish Defense Staff, the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, and the Philippine Navy do not have any announcements regarding the alleged arrival of Cristóbal Colón in the Philippines for a maritime cooperation activity. The false report also comes amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.


Philippine-Spain relations: The Spanish Navy has made several visits to the Philippines in recent years. 

On September 5, 2019, the Spanish Navy frigate Méndez Núñez (F-104) arrived at Pier 15 of the South Harbor in Manila for a goodwill visit. This is the first time that a Spanish Navy ship traversed the waters off Cavite and Manila after the Philippines gained independence from Spain in June 1898, the Philippine Navy said.

High-ranking Spanish defense officials also went to the Philippines in 2020 and 2021 for official visits.

The Philippine and Spanish navies also trained together in a joint sea exercise on October 14, 2023, at the Gulf of Aden. The joint exercise was led by the Philippines’ Combined Task Force 151 and was composed of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force‘s JS Ikazuchi (DD107), Spanish Ship Navarra (F85), and Marina Militare Francesco Morosini (P431) of Italy.

Rising tensions in WPS: Several countries have shown support for the Philippines amid ongoing Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, as Beijing continues to defy a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating its sweeping claims over the South China Sea.

Following the most recent incident of the China Coast Guard using water cannons against Philippine vessels last March, ambassadors of the European Union (EU), United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Germany issued statements expressing concern. (READ: Foreign governments stand with Philippines after latest incident in Ayungin Shoal)

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron said that he was “concerned by recurring dangerous manoeuvres, blocking and water-cannoning from Chinese Coast Guard vessels and Maritime Militia against Philippine vessels engaged in resupply missions.”

A few days after the incident, the Philippines, Australia, Japan, and the United States conducted a maritime cooperative activity to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight, and respect for maritime rights under international law” in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. – Lorenz Pasion/Rappler.com

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