President Rodrigo Duterte scored social media giant Facebook on September 28, 2020, over its decision to take down accounts and pages advocating “something” that is good for the people.
“Tell me, kung bakit hindi ko magamit para sa kapakanan ng taong bayan (Tell me, why I cannot use (Facebook) for the welfare of the people). If government cannot use it for the good of the people, then we have to talk. We have to talk sense,” Duterte said in his talk to the nation at Malacañang Palace.
Duterte was reacting to Facebook’s move to take down several pages and accounts allegedly linked to the military and police for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” last week.
“I’ve learned in the past days, pati ang advocacy of government tinanggal (was removed), so what is the purpose of you being here. Facebook listen to me. We allow you to operate here hoping that you could also help us also,” Duterte said. “Now, if government cannot espouse or advocate something which is for the good of the people, then what is your purpose here in my country?”
The President said his government is not advocating mass destruction but fighting insurgency that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians in more than 50 years.
“You know Facebook, insurgency is about overturning government. What would be the point of allowing you to continue 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 said Facebook must explain its “sweeping move” against the Facebook accounts detailing the atrocities committed by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
One of the pages shut down was the “Hands Off Our Children”, whose advocacy is to prevent minors from being recruited into organizations espousing violent extremism.
“Tapos yung Left ini-encourage kayo (Then the Left, you are being encouraged), then you believe in the Left to the point of almost making a sweeping move,” Duterte said. “If you cannot reconcile the idea of what’s your purpose is, or was, then we have to talk. I don’t know what I will do but we have to talk.”
AFP Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, also regret Facebook’s decision to shut down “Hands Off Our Children”, acknowledging that the page was instrumental to the campaign to raise awareness on the vulnerability of children in the hands of communist front organizations.
He said the group’s grievances are legitimate and calls against violent extremism are urgent, noting that communist terrorists have been known to recruit and victimize students, conditioning them to become cadres and members of the NPA.
On September 24, Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said all information concerning atrocities and abuses of the communist terrorist group posted on his Facebook account are all verified and substantiated by former members and allies of the CPP-NPA.
Parlade made the comment after Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate urged the social media giant to make public all fake Facebook accounts, with alleged links to the military and police, that are involved in the red-tagging of progressive and opposition groups.
“Rep. Carlos Zarate can ask FB to look at our FB account and I dare FB to take it down if they see if it is not authentic. I have nothing to hide and what I post there are all verified and substantiated by former cadres of the CPP, former NPA leaders, former recruits of Kamatayan (Makabayan) Bloc who turned NPA terrorists, victims of rape by NPA commanders who by the way are always CPP executives (you cannot be an NPA leader if you are not), IPs who were kidnapped by CPP-NPAs and forced to become NPA slaves for years,” Parlade said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Duterte said Facebook cannot lay down a policy for his government.
“I allow you to operate here, you cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of the government,” Duterte said. “If you are promoting the cause of the rebellion, which is already, or which was already here before you came and so many thousands of my soldiers and civilians dying, then, if you cannot reconcile the idea of what your purpose is, or was, then we have to talk.” (PNA)