PH Army shields officer tagged in accounts shut by Facebook: ‘We trust him’
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Army continued to trust one of its officers, Cpt. Alexandre Cabales, who has been tagged as one of the operators of a network taken down by Facebook for alleged “coordinated inauthentic behavior” which could involve the use of fictitious names to create accounts.
Col. Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson, said the Army was “alarmed” at the allegations because these involved an officer who was being held in high regard.
“We trust him. We are confident that he did not do anything wrong but we will look into it,” Zagala said at an online press conference on Thursday (Sept. 24).
Facebook earlier said it took down dozens of accounts, pages and Instagram accounts linked to the military and police for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Inauthentic behavior could mean the users or owners of the shuttered accounts had used fictitious names of individuals or groups.
The network of accounts and pages, which was aimed at domestic audiences, featured local news and articles on domestic politics, the anti-terror law and criticisms of communism, activists and the opposition.
Cabales is chief of the Army Social Media Center under the Civil Military Operations Regiment. Zagala said the unit’s task is to “capacitate Army units to inform on anything that is related to social media as a platform.”
Cabales also gives social media training to the Army’s ground units. “Social media is a platform that not all in the military units are aware of,” Zagala said.
He said ground units are being trained to share with the public through social media accurate and timely, not fabricated, information.
Cabales also runs Kalinaw News, a Facebook page of the Philippine Army which features news from its different units across the country. It was not among the pages taken down by Facebook.
The junior officer is also associated with Hands Off Our Children (HOOC), a group of parents whose children went missing after being supposedly recruited by New People’s Army. Its page was among those shut down by the social media giant.
Zagala said parents from HOOC sought Cabales’ help to run their social media account.
The Army spokesperson said officials needed more clarification from Facebook on the supposed violations committed on social media by the shuttered accounts.
“That’s the big question. What is the violation?” Zagala said. “If they are looking at the behavior and not the content, we need to discuss what were the violations as admin of the HOOC,” he said.
Armed Forces Chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Wednesday (Sept. 23) asked Facebook to reinstate the HOOC pages and those of other “advocacy groups” that had been removed.
Gapay said the page was instrumental to the military’s campaign to raise awareness on NPA recruitment of youths.
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