HOAX: ‘Two ex-Comelec programmers arrested for destroying evidence of 2016 elections fraud’

The story is pure fiction. The alleged programmers do not exist.


Published: 8:55 AM September 6, 2018

Updated: 10:33 AM September 6, 2018

The men in the photo are actually suspects in a 2016 bomb attempt near the US Embassy.

Claim: Two former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) employees were arrested for destroying evidence of alleged fraud during the 2016 elections two months before the recount of votes for vice president.

Nicanor Torreblanca and Walden Libona, both from Biñan, Laguna, were arrested for allegedly stealing the memory cards of 20 Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines. The thumbnail also suggests that they are being reprimanded by former police chief and now Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) Director Ronald dela Rosa.

The undated September blog post has been shared in Facebook groups and pages. All of these accounted to a combined total of 2,877 interactions and 1,451,076 followers.

The claim has already been debunked by memebuster.net on January 11. However, it was republished again on different blogs and is being shared by mostly pro-Duterte pages and groups.

Other blogs also posted the claim such as tropasociety.altervista.org, todaysbalita.info, incaseumissed.blogspot.com, phnewspride.blogspot.com, pagbabagongtunay.info (taken down), and pinoypolitics.altervista.org (taken down).

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The said Comelec programmers do not exist.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez provided Rappler with a photo of a certification showing that Torreblanca and Libona are not Comelec employees.

There are also no news reports supporting the claim.

The post also claimed that Libona is originally from Naga City and previously worked for the office of the late city mayor and former interior secretary Jesse Robredo. He and Torreblanca will supposedly be charged for burglary and will face “heavier” penalty if the memory cards can be proved to contain election fraud evidence. The post did not offer or link to evidence supporting this claim.

After doing a reverse image search on Google, the thumbnail can be traced back to a December 2016 Associated Press (AP) news report on two Filipino ISIS-sympathizers who attempted to detonate a homemade bomb near the US Embassy.

The false post is written by a certain “Master Tasyo.” Upon clicking, it only redirects to his profile page on blogger.com. The blog weblog.ph, which is responsible for disinformation such as misleading statistics on the country’s crime rate, is listed as his website. — Miguel Imperial/Rappler.com

If you suspect a Facebook page, group, account, a website, or an article is spreading false information, let Rappler know by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.