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FIGHT IN CYBERSPACE

Army taps ‘socmed’ warriors to fight communist propaganda

/ 04:33 AM September 25, 2019

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Saying the virtual world has become a key battleground for fighting enemies of the state, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) organized its corps of “social media warriors” who will mainly wage an information war against communist propaganda.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID commander, said communist guerrillas “are not only operating in the mountains but are also in different social media platforms.”

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“We need to effectively counter their lies and deception that are circulating online … Social media will enable us to spread accurate and timely information about the government’s peace and development efforts to end local communist armed conflict,” Gacal said.

The 4ID’s area of responsibility covers the five provinces of Caraga region, three provinces of Northern Mindanao and its regional seat, Cagayan de Oro City. The New People’s Army (NPA) is known to operate in six of these eight provinces.

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The provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon also connect to the remaining NPA strongholds in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley, both of which are under the area of the 10th Infantry Division.

Recently, the Army has been blamed for the string of killings of farmers and activists in Bukidnon, earning stinging criticisms on social media.

Front-liners

The 4ID’s social media corps of 50 people are composed of personnel handling civil-military operations duties, noncommissioned officers based in brigades and battalions, and tactical operations officers from the Philippine Air Force and Philippine National Police. They underwent a five-day social media training, where resource persons emphasized the importance of the technology-driven platform in effective information dissemination.

Gacal stressed social media’s importance in winning the fight “for the hearts and minds of the people,” especially the youth.

Col. Michelle B. Anayron Jr., 4ID chief of staff, reminded the members of the division’s social media team that their work “as social media front-liners … is just as equally relevant to our soldiers in the front lines of the battlefield.”

The 4ID maintains a Facebook page, which was created in December 2015. It has at least 55,000 followers. —JIGGER J. JERUSALEM

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TAGS: 4th Infantry Division, communists, Franco Nemesio Gacal, social media warriors
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