MANILA

Duterte 'nothing to do' with banned Facebook accounts

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has nothing to do with around 200 Facebook pages, accounts, and groups manned by his former social media manager, Nicanor Gabunada Jr., Malacañang said on Monday, April 1.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark after Facebook took down hundreds of pages, accounts and groups linked to Gabunada, who was behind the social media campaign of Duterte in 2019, because of supposed "coordinated and inauthentic behavior."

In a Palace briefing, Panelo said no taxpayers' money were used to fund the Facebook profiles and accounts being handled by Gabunada.

"First, I don't think the President has anything to do with it those Facebook accounts, which [were] initiated during the campaign or even during the assumption of his presidency. He does not know anything about it," the Palace official said.

"No [government funds were used for those accounts]. I said the President has nothing to do with that and we will not allow that," he added.

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of Facebook's cybersecurity policy, divulged on Friday, March 29, that 67 Facebook pages, 68 accounts, 40 groups, and 25 Instagram accounts linked to a network organized by Gabunada were banned from the social media platform.

Gleicher said the basis for the shutdown was the combination of "authentic and fake" accounts were "basically being used to drive messaging on behalf of, and related to, local [election] candidates."

"A lot of messaging was designed to look independent, but in fact, we can see that they were coordinated on the back," he explained.

"A lot of messaging was pro, sort of supporting the candidates they were working in behalf of, some would be attacking political opponents of these candidates," Gleicher added.

Panelo, however, stressed that Duterte was not interested in creating Facebook accounts to boost support from the public.

"Hindi siya yung tipong interesado sa mga Facebook account. Hindi siya 'yun. Siya 'yung tipong he'll just give you his policies, then enforce them. Ganoon siya. (He's not interested in Facebook accounts. He's not that type of person. He's the type of person who will just give you his policies, then enforce them. That's him)," he said.

"It doesn't matter to him whether you criticize him, you assassinate him. Wala sa kanya 'yun. Hindi siya bothered nor disturbed, nor distracted by anything that will be an obstacle to his goals as president of the Republic," Panelo added. (SunStar Philippines)


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