MANILA - The discovery of propaganda networks targeting Filipinos should frighten the public, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday, nearly a week after Facebook took them down for violating its policies against "coordinated inauthentic behavior."
Facebook removed pages, accounts, groups and Instagram profiles of the two unnamed networks, some of which were linked to Philippine police and military personnel, and another based in China which were allegedly targeting the Philippines with manipulation campaigns on the platform.
But Robredo said the networks from China were more disturbing as they were seen backing President Rodrigo Duterte and trying to sway the upcoming national elections in favor of the possible presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
"Anong ginagawa ng China sa domestic affairs natin? Ito, kailangan tayo dito matakot. Kasi bakit? Ano ang interes ninyo sa eleksyon?" the Vice President said.
(Why is China getting involved in our domestic affairs? This should frighten us. Why? What is their interest in our elections?)
"Nakakatakot ito kasi may kinalaman ito sa soberanya natin."
(This is worrisome because it concerns out sovereignty.)
Robredo meanwhile said she expects Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay to investigate military personnel linked to the issue.
"In fact, nagsabi siya na iyong AFP mismo iyong magpapaimbestiga, kasi hindi nila tolerated iyong ganito. And ako, naniniwala ako sa kaniya, na hindi nila tino-tolerate iyong mga fake accounts. So natutuwa ako na nagsabi siya na magkakaroon talaga ng imbestigasyon," she said.
(In fact, he [Gapay] said the AFP itself would investigate this because they don't tolerate this. And I believe him, that they don't tolerate fake accounts. So I'm happy that he said they will really have an investigation.)
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro earlier announced she would push for more scrutiny in the police and military's budget, as well as agencies closely working with them.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas also said the Philippine military and police must be probed after they were implicated in the Facebook report.
After the removal of the Philippine and Chinese pages and profiles, Facebook dismantled another 3 networks of fraudulent propaganda accounts handled by Russian agents that were supposedly part of efforts to disrupt the upcoming US elections.
The company said the accounts, which were suspended for using fake identities and other types of "coordinated inauthentic behavior," were linked to Russian intelligence and people associated with a St. Petersburg-based organization accused by US officials of working to sway the 2016 presidential vote.
--With a report from Reuters