Military to go after people behind social media accounts backing Maute

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2017 06:33 PM

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Wednesday it is bent on going after people behind social media accounts supporting the activities of Islamist militants currently laying siege to Marawi City.

AFP Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said social media giant Facebook has granted the government's request to take down some accounts found to be promoting atrocities being committed by the Maute group and its local and foreign cohorts in Marawi City.

Padilla refused to give more details about the accounts being targeted by the government, only saying that these were “fomenting disinformation, discord and violence.”

“As soon as a determination has been made that these accounts are actually being used for the purposes that I said then it is brought down immediately,” Padilla said in a news conference.

Padilla, however, said the more important thing is to pin down the people behind these accounts.

“Our cyber folks and the laws we have will make room for that,” he said.

At least 70 social media accounts are being monitored by the government, Padilla said, adding that at least 10 of these have been taken down upon the government’s request.

Padilla said no one behind the social media accounts in question has been arrested so far, even as Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said on Tuesday that at least one person found to be committing “cyber sedition” will be arrested soon.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law after the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, backed by foreign terrorists, laid siege to Marawi City on May 23.

The clashes erupted as government troops were attempting to arrest Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon, considered the Islamic State’s point person in Southeast Asia. The government said the attempt to arrest Hapilon was meant to preempt a bigger attack from the militants.

Over 100 people, mostly Islamist militants, have died since the clashes erupted.