Election fact checks

FALSE: Duterte orders Smartmatic to be replaced as VCM provider

Rappler
FALSE: Duterte orders Smartmatic to be replaced as VCM provider
President Rodrigo Duterte did not order to replace Smartmatic on February 28, 2021. The Commission on Elections allotted P660.7 million for the refurbishment of the vote-counting machines to be used in 2022.
At a glance:
  • Claim: On February 28, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that Smartmatic be replaced as the country’s vote-counting machine (VCM) provider.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Duterte did not issue any order to replace Smartmatic on February 28. For the fiscal year 2021, the Commission on Elections allotted P660.7 million for the refurbishment of 97,345 VCM units. 
  • Why we fact-checked this: This claim was emailed to Rappler for verification. The video with this claim has been viewed 119,315 times on YouTube as of writing. 
Complete details:

A YouTube video published on February 28 claims in its title that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the replacement of Smartmatic as the country’s vote-counting machine provider. The title read: “BREAKING NEWS TODAY FEBRUARY 28, 2021 PRES DUTERTE PAPALITAN NA ANG SMARTMATIC.”

This claim was emailed to Rappler for verification. It has been viewed 119,315 times on YouTube as of writing. The channel that published the video, “DDS NEWSINFO,” has around 555,000 subscribers. 

This claim is false.

There were no reports, recordings, or documentary evidence of Duterte ordering the replacement of Smartmatic on February 28. 

Through a reverse image search, Rappler found that the video contains a news report from CNN Philippines that was published on May 31, 2019, not February 28 of this year.

The CNN Philippines report said that Duterte wanted the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to drop Smartmatic as a provider over fraud allegations. It also said that the Comelec was “seriously considering” the president’s suggestion and mentioned that the Smartmatic VCMs have already been bought.

However, the Comelec has not made any announcement about replacing Smartmatic with another VCM provider since then.

On the contrary, for fiscal year 2021, the Comelec allotted P660.7 million for the refurbishment of 97,345 VCM units to be used in the 2022 national elections. Bidding documents for the refurbishment can be found on the Comelec’s website. The bidding was also reported on by the government’s Philippine News Agency on November 18, 2020. 

The bidding for the refurbishment of VCMs closed on March 5. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com

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