AFP chief's comment on social media 'regulation' may cost him CA nod: Lacson

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 06:07 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Appointments (CA) may reject the nomination of Armed Forced chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay should he fail to clarify his previous comment that social media needs to be "regulated" under the anti-terror law, an official of the Appointments panel said Monday.

Gapay "will have problems" if he insists that social media should be regulated, said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who will preside over the military official's confirmation hearing on Sept. 2.

"Ang misgiving ko kasi, dangerous 'yun (statement) kasi sila ang implementor ng Anti-Terror Act sa ground," Lacson, the sponsor of the law in the Senate, said in an online press conference.

"Kung ang pananaw niya at the outset is social media should be regulated, he has a lot of explaining to do," Lacson said, noting that it would be a breach of the Filipinos' right to free speech.

Gapay earlier said that the government needs to "regulate" social media to stop terrorists from recruiting new members through online platforms.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. backed Gapay's statement last week, telling the CA that the assembly of molotov bombs are being discussed online.

But Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon noted that it is unlawful for the government to "determine" what the public can do online.

"One of the most contentious issues of the anti-terror law is the overbreadth doctrine. 'Yung unprotected speech, pinagbawal mo, at the same time, tatamaan din yung protected speech," Lacson said.

"Kung ganun ang pananaw ng interpretation ng mag-iimplement, that is dangerous... At the very least, he (Gapay) will have problems [with his confirmation]," the lawmaker said.

Should Gapay fail to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments, he will not be promoted as general, and will have to lead the military as a lieutenant general, Lacson said.
"Alam naman namin na tama kami. Kung i-insist niya yung mali, magkakaproblema siya," the senator said.

"A lot will depend on how he will respond to the issue," he added.