Anti-terror law cannot be used to regulate social media: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2020 06:25 PM

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. File

MANILA - The anti-terror law cannot be used to regulate social media, Malacañang said Tuesday after the new chief of the Philippine military suggested doing so.

There is no provision in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 for the regulation of social media use, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

"Binasa ko naman po ang Anti-Terror Law, wala pong probisyon doon na magagamit laban sa social media," Roque, a lawyer, said during a Palace press briefing.

(I read the Anti-Terror Law, there is no provision there on social media)

Newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay floated Monday the possible regulation of social media, saying it is used by terrorists.

"[W]e'll be providing some inputs on countering violent extremism and likewise maybe regulating, even regulating social media because this is the platform now being used by the terrorists to radicalize, to recruit and even plan terrorist acts," Gapay told a press conference Monday. 

Roque, however, said Gapay's statement is the latter's personal opinion, noting that cybercrime laws cover social media.

"Ang mayroon po diyan ay iyong ating cybercrimes law ‘no, may probisyon po diyan, pero subject po iyan sa authority na ibibigay ng ating hukuman," he said.

(We have cybercrime laws. There is a provision for that but that is subject to the authority given by the court.)

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the anti-terror law on July 3 despite strong opposition from different sectors on fears that it could be used to silence government criticism.

The law is facing several legal challenges before the Supreme Court.