Recto warns of foreign interference in 2022 polls

Published September 24, 2020, 2:10 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Sen. Ralph Recto warned of possible foreign interference in the 2022 national and local elections amid the proliferation of fake news and troll accounts on social media.

Senate Ralph Recto
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In view of this threat, Recto said the government should put in place a firewall to secure the 2022 polls from foreigners that might meddle in the country’s democratic system.

“Foreign troll factories should be blocked from polluting the 2022 elections. Let the latter’s results be based on the free and informed choice of our people, and not on manufactured stories designed to mislead them,” said the Senate President Pro Tempore.

“When unleashed in our elections, this virus is as dangerous as malwares in ballot counting machines,” he said.

Recto said he does not believe that local candidates “will be in cahoots with alien interests” and will tolerate such an intrusion even if it is for their benefit.

“But nothing prevents foreign agents who have so much at stake here from propping up their favored candidate and pulling down the one they dislike,” he raised.

He urged the govenrment, specifically the Commission on Elections and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, to start devising measures that would “detect and repel foreign interference” and “would keep alien-generated or alien-funded content from fomenting hatred and widening the division among our people.”

“This early, regardless of our political affiliation, we should work as one in making sure that no offshore black propaganda operations would mar the 2022 elections,” he said.

“Whether they are peddling fake news, or counterfeit products, or bogus services, and regardless of where they are run, these sites should have no space in social media platforms,” he added.

Facebook had taken down several accounts from two networks for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” or manipulation campaigns.

Of the accounts and pages removed, 155 accounts, 11 pages, nine groups, and six Instagram accounts were managed by a network based in Fuijan, China and were focused on the Philippines and Southeast Asia, including the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and issues concerning overseas Filipino workers.

The social networking site said the pages were also engaged with “content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Sarah Duterte’s potential run in the 2022 presidential election.”

Aside from the China-based social media accounts, also taken down were over 108 accounts with “links” to the Philippine military and police that criticize youth activism and the opposition.