‘Only public posts’: PNP clarifies scope of its social media monitoring
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will only monitor social media posts that are set for public consumption in connection with its plan to investigate posts showing quarantine violations, its new chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan said Monday.
Cascolan made this clarification after Joint Task Force COVID Shield Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar warned that the police will “regularly monitor” various social media platforms in search of individuals defying quarantine protocols against the coronavirus disease.
“Ang sabi ko, if it’s posted publicly. Hindi ko naman sinabing posted privately (I said, we will investigate if it’s posted publicly, not privately). If we enter your account, you file a case against us,” Cascolan said in his first press briefing at Camp Crame as PNP chief.
“Social media — it’s a responsibility on the part of each individual to place what is right because ikaw mismo ang nagkakalat eh,” he added.
Cascolan said the police will also investigate viral posts showing quarantine violations.
“But if it’s in your account, hindi naman namin papasukan ‘yung account niyo. But if you make it public, there will be a question then: are you doing what you call social responsibility on your part?” he then asked.
“We never intervened or entered your Facebook, your account. As I said, when it goes viral and you want to die and you want other people to die too, that’s not privacy anymore. Do you think that’s privacy?” Cascolan further said.
The PNP chief likewise assured that the police are “very compliant” to the Data Privacy Act and will look for evidence and witnesses to investigate properly.
Meanwhile, Eleazar also urged the public to not have qualms about this plan as prominent individuals and government officials whose posts go viral more often might be the ones who would catch the attention of the police.
He also assured that no one will be arrested based solely on social media posts.
“It will serve as a basis for further investigation, but it has to be validated. Possible kasi na fake lang ‘yun. We will get the validation also of the barangay para maimbestigahan (It’s possible that it’s fake. We will also get the validation of the barangay so we can investigate it.),” he said.
The Commission on Human Rights and the National Union of People’s Lawyers earlier raised concerns on this plan of the police, saying this move would violate constitutional and privacy rights especially without legal authority given by the courts.
The move to monitor social media posts came in stark contrast with the controversial “mañanita” held for the birthday of National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas in May, which showed that many of the attendees flouted the guidelines even during the stringent implementation of enhanced community quarantine. Pictures of the event were posted in the Facebook page of the NCRPO.
Contrary to what was seen in the photos of attendees, Sinas — who retained his post after the PNP launched an investigation, and even a vote of confidence from President Rodrigo Duterte — insisted that those who attended were ordered to observe social distancing and other health measures. The probe is still ongoing.
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