Dela Rosa seeks Senate probe on FB removal of pro-military, gov’t pages

Published October 2, 2020, 12:33 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa has sought a Senate inquiry on Facebook’s removal of pro-government and pro-military advocacy pages that it claimed to have “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and violated its community standards.

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa (Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa / Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dela Rosa filed Senate Resolution No. 531 asking for an investigation on the matter, saying he finds it necessary to ask the social media platform on the censorship action they have taken on these accounts to ensure the protection and non-curtailment of right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

Facebook had earlier confirmed it has taken down more than 200 accounts belonging to two networks engaged in coordinated activities meant to mislead users, saying one of these was based in China, while another was linked to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

President Duterte had earlier called out Facebook over its actions and threatened to stop its operations here in the Philippines.

According to Dela Rosa, one of the pages shutdown by Facebook was the “Hands Off Our Children” – an advocacy page launched by a group of parents who are fighting to protect their children against violent extremism and has been actively calling out communist rebels who recruit children as combatants.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay had earlier said the page is instrumental to the military’s campaign to raise awareness of the vulnerability of children in the hands of communist front organizations, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and seven other countries including the Philippines.

Dela Rosa noted that Facebook did not take down some Facebook pages and profiles that allegedly support and promote violent activities and ideologies of the CPP-NPA.

“The censorship campaign against child recruitment of the communist terror group could hamper the efforts to prevent the spread of violent extremism in the country,” Dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, said in the explanatory note of the resolution.

“(Thus), there is an urgent need for the Senate to investigate the censorship done by Facebook considering that it affects not only the peace and order and security of our country, but likewise, greatly affects every Filipino’s freedom of expression as guaranteed by no less than the Philippine Constitution,” the senator added.

The Senate referred Dela Rosa’s resolution to the Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights and Public Information and Mass Media.