Duterte blasts Facebook over removal of PH military 'advocacy' accounts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 01:02 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members in Davao City on Sept. 21, 2020. Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday lashed out at Facebook for taking down Philippine military "advocacy" accounts and pages from its platform.

"From what I have learned in the past days, na pati ang advocacy ng gobyerno tinatanggal (advocacies of government are being removed). So what's the purpose of you (Facebook) being here?" Duterte said in a public briefing aired late evening.

"We allow you to operate here, hoping that you can help us also. Now, if government cannot espouse or advocate something which is good for the people, then what's your purpose in my country?"

Facebook earlier said it 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.

Fifty-seven Facebook accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram accounts, which constituted one network operating in the Philippines, were taken down, according to the social media firm's Head of Security Policy, Nathaniel Gleiche.

Duterte claimed that leftists are influencing Facebook.

"What would be the point of allowing you to continue (operations) if you cannot help us?" he said.

"We are not advocating mass destruction, we are not advocating massacre, it's a fight of ideas."

He sought an explanation from Facebook why he and his administration can't use its platform "for the good of the people."

"If government can't use it for the good of the people, then we have to talk. We have to talk sense. If you're promoting the cause of rebellion... which was already here before you came, and so many thousands of my soldiers and citizens dying... if you cannot reconcile the idea of what your purpose is or was, then we have to talk," he said.

Duterte cautioned Facebook against "laying down policy for his government."

"You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of government," he said adamantly.

The President seemingly threatened the social network, saying he doesn't know if there's "life after Facebook."

THIS SHOULD SCARE US

Vice President Leni Robredo, Duterte's political rival, earlier said the discovery of propaganda networks targeting Filipinos should frighten the public.

She said networks from China were disturbing as they were seen backing Duterte and trying to sway the upcoming national elections in favor of the possible presidential bid of his daughter, 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.) 

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