PH military asks Facebook to be tool to project AFP image as ‘true protectors’
MANILA, Philippines—Facebook, which has at least 1 billion users worldwide, could be a tool to build public support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and project its image as “true protectors and defenders of the state against its enemies,” according to the military on Tuesday (Sept. 29).
The AFP threw its support behind President Rodrigo Duterte, its commander-in-chief, who ranted against the social media giant for taking down sites created by supposedly advocacy groups in support of the government’s counterinsurgency campaign.
“We are thankful to the commander-in-chief’s expression of support to the AFP’s campaign that, after all, may well be every Filipinos’ war against the communist terrorist group NPA—to include affiliated underground mass organizations— that have caused the misery of our people for more than 50 years,” AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
The Duterte administration has followed the footsteps of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in declaring NPA and Communist Party of the Philippines, which grew out of agrarian and social unrest following the Second World War, as terrorist organizations.
Facebook last week struck down pages, accounts, groups and Instagram profiles, some of which were linked to police and military personnel, which the social giant found to have been created by fictitious personalities and displayed “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Duterte claimed that leftists are dominating Facebook. He demanded that the social giant explain why it won’t allow itself to be used by the government “for the good of the people.”
One of the pages removed by Facebook, called Hands of our Children, was supposedly created by a group of “parents looking for their children who were recruited by the New People’s Army.”
Although it is not an official military page, the group’s administrator is an Army captain identified as Alexandre Cabales. The parents asked him to run the page, the Army had said, describing Cabales as an officer “we trust.”
Arevalo said Facebook and other social media platforms could spread “accurate information that would empower our people to see through the lies and reject terrorist organizations masquerading as pro-people.”
Leftist activists and human rights groups had condemned the practice, amplified on Facebook and other social media platforms, of Red-tagging, or falsely accusing human rights defenders and dissenters of involvement in the armed underground communist movement.
The AFP, according to Arevalo, supported Duterte’s demand for Facebook to sit down and discuss with the government “how Filipinos will benefit from the popularity of Facebook and its presence in the Philippines.”
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