MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's rant against Facebook is "part of a long trend of media suppression and repression," veteran investigative journalist Sheila Coronel said Wednesday.
Duterte had called out the social media giant after it took down several propaganda networks in support of the administration.
"In a way this is Duterte being Duterte. This is a part of long trend of media suppression and repression. He’s focused on Facebook now. He’s eliminated most of ABS-CBN, he has intimidated the Inquirer, his government has filed a dozen cases against Rappler and Rappler staff," Coronel told ANC.
"What he’s doing is he’s employing an arsenal of media control that populist and autocratic leaders all around that world have deployed."
The President's move was "ironic" as Facebook helped him during his 2016 elections campaign, Coronel said.
"Facebook is a double-edged sword. Facebook was in a way an enabler of President Duterte during his campaign and into his presidency when Facebook allowed a number of whole plethora of fake news accounts and disinformation in support of President Duterte to proliferate," she said.
Should Facebook be banned from the Philippines, it may "backfire" to the Duterte administration, she added.
"Whether this will backfire, it may because a lot of Filipinos overseas who rely on Facebook in order to connect. Facebook is not only a source of news, it’s a source of personal connection," she said.
Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque earlier admitted Facebook's exit from the country could be harmful to both the government and the social media platform as he denied rumors that the President is after the American conglomerate.
The House of Representatives, where a "supermajority" supports Duterte, said it would look into Facebook's actions after it has finished budget deliberations.