‘Bato’ wants Senate to probe Facebook for ‘infringing freedom of speech’ in PH

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Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa is asking the Senate to investigate social media giant Facebook for taking down accounts supportive of the current administration, saying the move is a form of censorship.

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“There is an urgent need for the Senate to investigate the censorship done by Facebook considering that it affects not only the peace and order, and security of our country but likewise greatly affects every Filipino’s freedom of expression as guaranteed by no less than the Philippine Constitution,” Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 531 directing the appropriate Senate Committee, primarily referred the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on action taken by Facebook.

Dela Rosa mentioned in his resolution, “57 accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram profiles were taken down, which included content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte; criticism of Rappler online news website; issues relevant to the overseas Filipino Workers; military activities against terrorism; anti-terrorism law; criticism of communism, youth activist and opposition; posts against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”

Dela Rosa specified the removal of “Hands Off Our Children,” an advocacy page being run by a group of parents who are allegedly fighting to protect their children against violent extremism.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the advocacy page provides awareness on the vulnerability of children in the hands of communist organizations such as the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

“The censorship campaign against child recruitment of the communist terrorist group could hamper the efforts to prevent the spread of violent extremism in the country,” Dela Rosa said.

During his televised speech on Monday night, Sept. 28, Duterte chastised Facebook, stating that the US tech firm is “being allowed by the government to operate in the country with the hopes that it will help push for the government’s advocacies”.

Dela Rosa emphasized that the Philippines is Facebook’s second largest market in Asia, with 76 million users as of July 2020, and projected to reach 88 million by 2025.

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