AFP urges Facebook to ‘help gov’t end communist insurgency’

Published September 29, 2020, 3:42 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

After the shutdown of social media accounts linked to the military and police due to “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday encouraged the management of Facebook to help the government in its anti-communist insurgency campaign which has hounded the country for over 50 years.

(Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the military leadership is thankful to President Duterte for his expression of support to their campaign to crush the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

“The AFP views Facebook and other social media outfits as platforms to disseminate accurate information that would empower our people to see through the lies (of) terrorist organizations masquerading as pro-people,” the military spokesperson said.

“FB (Facebook) could be the medium that will help consolidate people’s support to their armed forces as their true protectors and defenders of the state against its enemies,” he added.

On Monday night, Duterte scored Facebook for supposedly “encouraging” communist rebels to further their cause by removing the accounts that advocate against the NPA, which are causes that are also being pushed by the military and police.

“We allow you to operate here hoping that you could help us also. 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?” Duterte asked in his address to the public.

Duterte added that he intends to talk to the management of Facebook to sort out the issue, a move which was welcomed by the military.

“The AFP is one with the President in his call for FB executives to sit down and discuss with government how the Filipinos will benefit from the popularity of FB and its presence in the Philippines,” Arevalo said.

Last week, Facebook shut down hundreds of accounts and pages with links to some Chinese individuals, the Philippine military and police for alleged government intrusion through politics, and for supposedly spreading disinformation about an array of topics including the Anti-Terrorism Law, and the CPP-NPA among others.

A network of accounts were reportedly used to create fake engagement, spam, and artificial amplification of audience reach to influence public opinion about a certain issue, individual or a group of people.

Foreign social media activities traced in Fujian, China were monitored by Facebook to be posting contents about the United States election, West Philippine Sea, and the rumored 2022 presidential campaign of Davao City Sara Duterte-Carpio, the President’s daughter.

Meanwhile, Facebook also found domestic inauthentic behavior where accounts linked to some active personnel of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were posting contents “red-tagging” government critics and activists as terrorists, and favoring the Anti-Terror Bill, which was passed into law last July 3.

At least three active members of the AFP were identified as among the administrators of a network of accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, including Captain Alexandre Cabales, the social media chief of the Philippine Army.

It was bared that Cabales was the administrator of Kalinaw News, the Army’s social media platform, and the advocacy page “Hands Off Our Children” which is a community of parents whose children were allegedly recruited by the NPA.

Cabales’ personal Facebook account, where he regularly shared the contents of Kalinaw News and Hands Off Our Children, was among those closed by Facebook. The Hands Off Our Children page was also shut down.

However, the military had denied Cabales was involved in spreading fake news and contents, and insisted that all information he was releasing on his social media accounts were truthful.

The military also asked the Facebook to review their policies and reinstate the closed accounts.