Gov’t should use funds for real farms, not trolls – Pangilinan | Inquirer News

Gov’t should use funds for real farms, not trolls – Pangilinan

/ 04:37 AM June 23, 2021

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MANILA, Philippines — Taxpayers’ money must be spent on agricultural farms and other profarmer programs, instead of using them to finance troll farms, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said on Tuesday.

Pangilinan expressed concern over reports that an undersecretary has been busy organizing troll farms across the country, noting that online trolling can lead to deaths.

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“Instead of spending for troll farms, they should fund agricultural farms: poultry, piggery, livestock, vegetable and rice because these are the activities that help our fellow Filipinos,” he said.

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Pangilinan was reacting to revelations from Sen. Panfilo Lacson that an undersecretary, whom he did not name, has been organizing two troll farms for each province, in preparation for the 2022 elections.

The hiring of Nicanor Gabunada Jr. as communications strategy consultant of the Department of Finance for six months from June 16 to Dec. 15 was also questioned.

Gabunada was the operator behind a pro-Duterte fake account network composed of 200 Facebook pages with about 3.6 million followers, which Facebook took down.

According to Pangilinan, Filipinos should launch a strong pushback against disinformation and trolling in the run-up to the 2022 elections. Pangilinan said the Senate would exert efforts to address the “weaponization of social media.”

“We have to look at legislation moving forward. How do we now regulate? This will definitely be a challenge because of its implications on free speech. Then we have cybercrime laws,” he said.

Rampant Red-tagging

The weaponization of social media had led to people being killed, Pangilinan said, citing how rampant Red-tagging activities online have caused harm and even death to their targets.

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According to Pangilinan, social media platforms must also put their foot down to help with a strong pushback.

“Facebook and other social media platforms have become crime scenes, enabling criminality. The Philippines seems to have become the No. 1 country in child pornography and pedophile rings. And that is done through all these social media platforms, whether it’s Youtube or Twitter or WhatsApp or Facebook,” he said.

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