'This is where your taxes go': Solons chide military, police after Facebook takedown


Posted at Sep 24 2020 05:25 PM

MANILA — Members of the House of Representatives' progressive bloc on Thursday chided the Philippine military and police in the wake Facebook's discovery that some propaganda networks were linked to country' security forces.

"It is as if Facebook said to Filipinos: This is where your taxes go... We are glad that there is now an official recognition from Facebook of what we have been saying all along—that behind the online troll army is the administration and its martial rule," ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said in a statement.

The social media giant early Wednesday announced it has removed 2 networks, one from the Philippines and another from China, for violating its policies against "coordinated inauthentic behavior." In the case of the removed Philippine network, Facebook said it had links to the Philippine military or police.

"We are attributing this network to the Philippine military and Philippine police. In particular, we found links behind this network that connected to both these organizations and individuals associated with these organizations," said Facebook's Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher.

Castro said she would push for more scrutiny in the police and military's budget as well as agencies closely working with them.

"Napakasaklap [na] napupunta ang pera ng bayan sa pagpapakalat ng kasinungalingan... Kung hahayaan natin ang paglobo pa ng badyet ng mga ahensya ng pulisya, militar, at NTF-ELCAC, patuloy na hindi COVID ang kakalabanin kundi kritisismo at kapakanan ng mamamayan," Castro said.

(It is tragic that the people's money are being spent on spreading lies. If we increase their budget, we are certain they would use it to target critics instead of addressing the pandemic.)

Castro was pertaining to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), the spokesperson of which was accused of tagging activists as members of the communist movement.

"In the coming plenary deliberations, these troll masters should better get ready with their explanations," she said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police must be probed after they were implicated in the Facebook report.

"Dapat ungkatin ang payroll at intel expenses ng AFP at PNP para makita ang sinasayang na pera para sa 'communications specialists' nila" Brosas said in a statement.

(We need to dig deeper into these agencies budget to know how they are wasting taxpayers' money for their "communications specialists.")

The Philippine security forces had insisted they are "compliant" with Facebook's policies.

Earlier, AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said military chief Gen. chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay and the Facebook Philippines Policy Team had met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the said accounts.

According to Arevalo, Facebook informed the AFP that its policy on the removal of accounts and pages is based on behavior and not on the content of the pages.