FACT CHECK: No, this is not a photo of Trillanes holding land title for part of West PH Sea

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 01 2019 05:05 PM

A Facebook post shares a photo alongside a claim it shows a Philippine opposition lawmaker holding the land title for part of the South China Sea. 

The claim is false; the image actually shows the lawmaker holding a complaint he filed against Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016, before Duterte became president of the Philippines.

The photo, which was shared in a Facebook post on April 22, 2019, shows opposition lawmaker Senator Antonio Trillanes holding up a document. This is Trillanes’ official website. 

The text across the photo translates to English as: “This is the land title of the West Philippine Sea in China which Nonoy and I sold to China. I went to China 16x remember”.

Below is a screenshot of the post:

Screenshot of Facebook post

“West Philippine Sea” refers to parts of the South China Sea which the Philippine government claims are its territory. This is a government document which outlines the territory it classifies as the “West Philippine Sea”.

“Noynoy” is a nickname for former Philippine president Benigno Aquino. This is his official Facebook page.

“I went to China 16x” refers to an allegation made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Trillanes went to China sixteen times in 2012 in order to engage in talks with Chinese officials about the West Philippine Sea. This article about the allegation was published by Philippine news site The Inquirer on May 25, 2016.

The claim in the misleading Facebook post is false; the photo actually shows Trillanes holding a complaint he filed against Rodrigo Duterte during the 2016 presidential race.

A reverse search using Tineye found the photo used in the misleading post was originally published in this tweet on May 5, 2016 by Yuji Gonzalez, a former reporter for Philippine news site Inquirer.net.

The caption states: “Trillanes says he filed plunder complaint vs Duterte at Ombudsman over ‘ghost employees’ in Davao @inquirerdotnet.”

Below is a comparison showing the photo in the misleading post on the left and Gonzales’s photo on the right:

Screenshot of images

This accompanying article by Gonzalez was published by Philippine news site The Inquirer on May 5, 2016.

Below is a screenshot of the article:

Screenshot of article

The headline states; “Duterte used bank accounts to launder funds from ‘ghost workers’–Trillanes.”

The video embedded in the article also shows Trillanes holding up the document.

Duterte won the May 9, 2016 election to become President of the Philippines. This is an AFP article about the election result published on May 10, 2016.

Comments on the misleading post show some people believed it was genuine. Below is a screenshot of one comment, which translates to English as: “You finally admitted it, you street dog”.

Screenshot of comment