Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany have not ‘joined forces’ in the Philippine Sea


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FACT CHECK: US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany have not ‘joined forces’ in the Philippine Sea
The five countries have not issued any statement on joint activities or military exercises in the Philippine Sea

Claim: Naval forces from the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany have joined forces in the Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a Facebook reel that has 11,900 likes, 1,100 shares, and 661 comments as of writing.

The bottom line: There have been no announcements from the departments/ministries of defense of the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany regarding joint military alliances between the five countries. There have also been no reports from the Philippines’ Department of National Defense regarding joint exercises between the five countries in the Philippine Sea. 

Current naval activities: On April 7, 2024, naval forces from the US, Japan, and Australia, joined the Philippine Navy in a joint patrol in the South China Sea. USNI News reported that six warships and four aircraft conducted the joint patrol following an increase in Chinese aggression in the region. Officially dubbed the Australia-Japan-Philippines-United States Maritime Cooperative Activity, these joint patrols began last November.

In a joint statement released on April 6, the Philippines’ defense department said that the MCA was conducted “in a manner with international law as well as domestic laws and rules of respective nations, and with due regard to the safety of navigation and the rights and interests of other states.”

The Philippines, Germany, and Canada: Germany and Canada are not part of the Maritime Cooperative Activity but the Philippines has pursued defense cooperation with both countries. 

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and German Chancellor Scholz discussed expanded defense cooperation between their countries during Marcos’ working visit to Berlin in March.

Malacañang said in a press statement that Marcos thanked Germany “for its continued support to the capacity-building of the Philippine Coast Guard,” the agency at the forefront of efforts to assert Manila’s rights in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation on military education, training exchanges, information sharing, peacekeeping operations, and disaster response between the two countries in January.

Renewed Chinese aggression in the South China Sea: The joint patrol between the US, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines came after a series of Chinese attacks on Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea. On April 4, China Coast Guard ships harassed Filipino fisherfolk as well as vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

For updates on the Philippines’ naval activities as well as activities with other countries, check out the official websites of the Philippines’ Department of National Defense and the Philippine Navy. – Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo 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.

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