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FACT CHECK: Photo misrepresents Philippine Army tanks supposedly on display in Spain


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FACT CHECK: Photo misrepresents Philippine Army tanks supposedly on display in Spain
The Facebook video uses images from the Romanian defense minister’s visit to Haifa, Israel and a thumbnail photo altered to show the Philippine flag on the side of an armored vehicle

Claim: A video claims that defense contractor Santa Barbara Sistemas supposedly presented new tanks for the Philippine Army in their factory in Spain. The video’s thumbnail shows an armored vehicle bearing the Philippine flag.


Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook video has garnered 92,000 views, 5,900 reactions, and 105 comments as of writing.

Altered photo: The video thumbnail has been altered to show the Philippine flag on the side of an armored vehicle. At the 3:18 mark, the same photo can be seen in the video, but without the Philippine flag.

The edited thumbnail photo is based on a screenshot from this video posted by Israeli defense manufacturing company Elbit Systems. The video shows Romania’s defense minister visiting the Elbit Systems headquarters in Haifa, Israel.

Reused media: The thumbnail photo has also been used in social media posts showing military equipment supposedly acquired during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s term. Rappler previously published a fact-check article on this.

No announcements: At around the 2:32 mark, the Facebook video says in Filipino that Santa Barbara Sistemas recently presented the ASCOD platform with Philippine Army markings in its Spain factory, and that these were set to be delivered to Israel’s Elbit Systems.

Elbit Systems manufactures the Sabrah light tank based on the tracked ASCOD platform manufactured by Santa Barbara Sistemas.

As of writing, no official reports or announcements of the supposed display of the armored vehicles can be found on the official Facebook pages of the Philippine Army, Department of National Defense, and Spanish embassy in the Philippines.

Sabrah light tank acquisition: In December 2022, the Philippines received the first of 20 units of the Sabrah light tank from Elbit Systems. The tank was displayed during the 87th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. 

The Philippine Army purchased the light tanks for P9.4 billion under Horizon 2 of the revised AFP modernization program. The rest of the units are expected to be delivered within the year.

Rappler has published several fact checks debunking similar claims about new or upgraded tanks for the Philippine Army:

  1. FACT CHECK: The Philippines has not been gifted tanks by the US in 2023
  2. FACT CHECK: Video shows Singapore military vehicles, not donations from Japan
  3. FACT CHECK: Video shows Singapore military parade practice, not tanks bought by PH from Israel

US pledge for EDCA projects: Another part of the video says that the US has pledged P11 billion for the acquisition of helicopters for the Philippine military and projects under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Media reports confirm this. Last April, Defense officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. said the US pledge includes $100 million or P5.5 billion for the purchase of medium-lift choppers for disaster response and non-combat operations, and $100 million for the development of four new EDCA sites.

According to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, the new EDCA sites will be located in Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; Balabac Island in Palawan; and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan. 

This is in addition to the existing sites in Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija; Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro; Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan; and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu. – Cecilia Ignacio/Rappler.com

Cecilia Ignacio is a 3rd-year Economics and English undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame. She works under Rappler’s Research unit.

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