Makabayan bloc seeks probe of 'troll farms': Unmask their financiers, organizers

Published June 20, 2021, 4:36 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Makabayan bloc has called for a congressional investigation into the activation of “troll farms”, saying that their activities are a threat to democracy, especially if used to malign and harass critics of the Duterte administration.

In House Resolution 1900 filed recently, the six members of the Makabayan bloc said the congressional inquiry should also look into the fund sources for the operations of troll farms.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate recalled that earlier this week Senator Panfilo Lacson disclosed that an incumbent undersecretary has started building at least two troll farms per province.

Troll farms are capable of undermining the holding of free elections like next year’s presidential polls.

“We have to know whether public funds are being used in these operations and whether these are also the ones spearheading the massive red-tagging campaign against progressives, media, church people, lawyers, critics and the opposition,” said Zarate.

“If public time and resources are involved, these are not just wasting taxpayers money but even criminal acts just to malign and harass anyone who criticizes the Duterte administration,” he explained.

According to Zarate the modus operandi of troll farms “is very similar to what Facebook detected of FB accounts linked to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other based in China that engage in coordnated inauthentic behavior (CIB).”

He warned: “To launch this kind of troll operations in a nationwide scale and for at least a year it would take millions and even billions of pesos.” Zarate declared troll farms as “very dangerous to our democracy” since they can create a “false clamor for a fake presidential candidate.”

According to Zarate there is a huge possibility that the next president is one that troll farms were able to install through bogus and unfair social media posts.

“We would have a troll president and we definitely do not want that,” said the Deputy Minority leader.

“It is imperative therefore that these troll farms should be investigated and stopped as this pose a clear and present danger to our democratic processes and institutions,” the opposition solon said.