The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has warned the public against “war mongers” who are reportedly spreading disinformation amid invalidation of the “nine-dash line” used by China to claim 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including the Spratly Islands and fishing areas within Philippine territory.
The disinformation, according to Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO), has been circulating in text messages and social media.
It spoke of ongoing chaos in Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Arevalo said, as war vehicles from Australia, France and other countries purportedly have started arriving in the former US military base located north of Manila.
“This [report]is not true, [it is a]fabrication. [This is] false news and something that we should not allow ourselves to be an instrument of spreading,” he added.
Also, Arevalo said, there is no heightening of alert status by the military.
In fact, he pointed out, the AFP is on white-alert status (return to normalcy) except in some areas where there are ongoing military operations.
Meanwhile, Philippine Marines posted at disputed areas in the South China Sea will continue to get their supplies even as the government mulls it next moves over a recent ruling by a UN tribunal favoring Manila’s territorial suit against China.
The ruling that was handed down on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in The Netherlands, in part, threw out China’s so-called nine-dash line, Beijing’s basis for its all-encompassing claim to the contested waters in the South China Sea.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said there was a scheduled resupply mission a week before the UN tribunal arrived at its decision but the mission was canceled to avoid misconception that the Philippines was provoking China.
Lorenzana added that he does not know yet when the next resupply mission would be but “definitely we are going there to resupply them [Marines] by any means.”
The Marines are deployed to Ayungin (Second Thomas Shoal), Pagasa (Thitu) Island, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, Patag (Flat) Island, Kota (Loaita) Island, Rizal (Commodore) Reef, Likas (West York) Island and Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island.