Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Saturday, Oct. 3, accused Facebook of being anti-government as he sought to regulate the social networking site’s operation in the Philippines.
Dela Rosa said in a radio interview that he believes Facebook was “targeting” pro-government social media accounts, taking down last month over a hundred of them for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” or disinformation campaigns.
Facebook had said that they found the accounts, which tackled communist insurgency, terrorism, and also criticized journalists, youth activism and the opposition, having “links” to the Philippine military and police.
“Ano pa bang konklusyon? Magpakatotoo tayo, huwag na tayong mag pa-epek-epek d’yan. Sa ginawa nilang ganoon that’s very clear. Ba’t di nila tinake down ang fake accounts ng NPA (What else could be the conclusion? Let’s be real, let’s not beat around the bush. With such actions, that’s very clear that they are anti-government. Then why didn’t they take down the fake accounts of the New Peoples’ Army)?” Dela Rosa told radio DWIZ when asked to clarify his impression of Facebook.
“Very clear ang tinatarget nila ‘yong (that they are targeting) pro-government accounts,” he said.
The administration senator, who previously led the Philippine National Police, had filed last September 30, a resolution seeking to investigate Facebook’s “censorship action” for removing over a hundred pro-government, fake social media accounts. He lamented this was a violation of the constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech and expression.
On Saturday, he clarified that he does not seek to ban Facebook in the country and that he only demands an explanation from its officials on the basis of taking down the military and police-associated accounts.
He said Facebook, in being allowed to operate in the country, “should respect our Constitution and not just follow their own, private conventions.”
Should Facebook refuse to comply, Dela Rosa said the “worst case scenario” would be to follow other countries that have either banned or limited their operations, such as Vietnam, which restricted anti-government post and contents on the social networking site.
“Yes, we have the power [to regulate]. Ano pa gamit ng gobyerno kung wala tayo power (What’s the use of our government if we do not have the power),” he said.
“Other countries nga banned sila, regulated nang husto doon, so hindi pa ba natin pwedeng gawin dito (In other countries they are even banned, that they extremely regulated, so can’t we do that, too)?”
Dela Rosa also defended the local “Hands Off Our Children” page, which was among the accounts closed down by Facebook.
The page, supposedly started by a group of parents who campaign against the recruitment of teenagers in the NPA and other left-leaning groups, was found to be maintained by the Philippine Army’s social media chief and at least two other military officers.
“Hindi naman ito fake, ito ay mga parents na gustong protektahan ang mga anak nila laban sa pagrecruit ng mga CPP-NPA sa kanilang eskwelahan (This is not fake, these are parents who want to protect their children from being recruited by the CPP-NPA). This is a legitimate advocacy group,” said the former law enforcer, who led a Senate hearing on the matter last year.
“Sino bang parents ang gustong maging NPA ang anak (Who are the parents who will agree that their children become rebels)?”
“Ako naman fair and square lang, kung nagdissent sa government ang mga terorista na ‘yan okay lang basta fair tayo, i-allow din ang pro-government advocacy group pabayaan nila. Pero kung take down dapat patas, both sides, implement nila nang patas (I am just being fair and square, if they are allowing those terrorists to air their dissent against the government, then pro-government advocacy groups should also be allowed. If they will them take down, then it should be fair, they should implement their policies fairly),” Dela Rosa lamented.
Dela Rosa said this would “strengthen” the communist movement’s presence since “no more” pro-government groups are negating them.