PCG: Possible China-sponsored disinformation campaign on WPS underway

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The Philippine Coast Guard on Tuesday revealed that it received reports on a possible China-sponsored disinformation campaign on the West Philippine Sea dispute.

During the joint inquiry of the Senate committees on national defense and security, foreign relations, public works and finance into the disputed waters, Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked if the PCG had intelligence on "alleged treachery" and signs of a "China state-sponsored disinformation campaign."

PCG spokesperson Jay Tarriela said: "The only information that we have received is through our media friends wherein some of those journalists we know that support the efforts of the Philippine government in the West Philippine Sea received emails trying to divert the attention and focus of the Filipino people.”

"Instead of concentrating on the aggressive actions of China, they are diverting it to Vietnam," he added.

Hontiveros then asked if the PCG knew if this was sponsored by China.

Tarriela said: "Based on my personal understanding, this kind of information operation will not be happening unless it is supported by a state actor."

The West Philippine Sea is a part of the South China Sea within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines that Beijing also claims.

Tarriela, who has branded Filipinos defending Beijing's aggression in the West Philippine Sea as traitors, last month warned netizens against disinformation on the contested waters.

He said disinformation on the issue would sway Filipinos towards the side of China, even though the arbitral tribunal ruled in 2016 that Beijing had no legal basis to claim most of the South China Sea.

READ: Fake news on WPS swaying Filipinos towards China - PCG