PH combats fake news on West Philippine Sea spread by 'trolls'

PH combats fake news on West Philippine Sea spread by ‘trolls’

/ 11:34 AM April 06, 2024

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SURROUNDED This frame grab from aerial video footage taken and released on March 23, 2024, by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shows a China Coast Guard ship and vessels identified by PCG as “Chinese Maritime Militia” (left and right) surrounding the PCG ship BRP Cabra during its supply mission near Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. Photo by AFP/PCG

LAPU-LAPU CITY — The fight on the West Philippine Sea has taken on another level: Fake news.

Aside from asserting the country’s claim on the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine government is fighting against fake news and misinformation that have been spread by pro-Chinese trolls, said Commodore Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson on West Philippine Sea.


The sad part, he added, was that some Filipinos participated in the spread of fake news.


“It really saddens me because I know for a fact that these trolls in social media, most of them are Filipinos. It is sad. The discussion on the West Philippine Sea is for the Philippines and these trolls are Filipinos. It means they are willing to receive money to counter our issue in the West Philippine Sea and that is the saddest part because what we talking here is our country,” Tarriela said in mixed English and Filipino.

“What really motivates them to do this? Probably financial gain. Obviously, somebody is paying them or funding them to carry out this misinformation and counter our factual narrative,” he added.

READ: PCG spox: Fake news peddlers boost support for China amid incursion in WPS

Undersecretary Jose Torres Jr., Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Director General, called these trolls “traitors to their country.”

“I hope they will realize that they are traitors of their country. I hope they will realize that they are Filipinos. I hope they will realize that they will have to stand up for their country and for the future of the Filipinos and not for their personal interest,” Torres said.

Tarriela and Torres were in Cebu for a three-day strategic communication workshop at Savoy Hotel in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan island, Cebu, which started on Wednesday, April 3, and ended on Friday, April 5.


Close to 20 information officers of PIA in the Visayas comprising of Western, Central and Eastern Visayas gather to draw up plans and discuss strategies on how to the issues surrounding the WPS understandable to the grassroots level.

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea has partnered with the PIA on the workshop as part of their efforts to combat fake news spread by trolls.

“We believe that it is very important for the Philippine government to tap the Philippine Information Agency regional offices for us to amplify the messaging of the National Task Force- West Philippine Sea in providing right information to the Filipino people,” said Tarriela.

READ: China’s sea claims ‘fake news of the century’, says Carpio

Some of the fake news involved personal attacks against Philippine officials involved in the campaign to protect the WPS. Some of these attacks emanated from websites traced to other countries like China.

Tarriela identified three fake news being spread online: Philippines’ exposé on China’s illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea would lead to war, China has become aggressive because of the Philippines’ deepening security activities with the United States, and that Philippines’ action is dictated by US.

Torres described the fake news “alarming” because many people believed these especially those living in far-flung areas.

Tarriela stressed that Philippines is not the one escalating tension in the WPS as it is just doing a routine resupply mission at the Ayungin Shoal.

Even without the US, he added, China has been harassing the fishermen at the WPS even during the previous administrations.

Tarriela asked the public to stand up and support the government which was standing by its sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

“Huwag po tayong magpadala sa mga (Let us not be swayed by) fake news or false narrative that West Philippine Sea does not concern the people in Mindanao and Visayas. Our West Philippine Sea fight is a fight for everyone,” he added.

Tarriela said part of their strategy to counter fake news is to publicize and expose all the aggressive and illegal actions of the People’s Republic of China at the WPS.

The transparency strategy started last year to inform the Filipino people what is happening at the WPS and to gain support from the international community.

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It is only through transparency that they can make necessary clarifications and dispel the misinformation, he added.

TAGS: West Philippine Sea

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