THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, clarified that newly installed Chief of Staff Gilbert Gapay merely wants to prevent terrorist groups from using social media to promote terrorism, recruit new members and generate financial, logistical, and material support.
AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo issued the clarification after Gapay’s proposal to include social media policies in the implementing rules and regulations for the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Arevalo explained in a radio interview that it does not mean that whoever will be posting statements against the government in their social media accounts will be considered terrorists.
"Ang sinasabi po natin ay kung 'yung iyong post ay naghahangad na maghikayat upang sumapi sa isang teroristang grupo kagaya ng sinasabi ko ang ISIS ano... ito ay malinaw na panghihikayat na isa sa mga pinagbabawal ng ating anti-terrorism law," he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he also sought to clarify Gapay’s statement.
“It is not part of its mandate and it would violate freedom of speech and discourse. I asked General Gapay yesterday what he meant because I was likewise surprised to hear him say it during our presscon after he was installed as CSAFP. He said his explanation was incomplete,” he said.
“According to him he meant the darknet, that clandestine network that peddles drugs, traffic people, sells guns and explosives, hires assassins and other illegal activities. But even this is difficult to regulate because it is underground and operates illegally. Also being used to recruit and plan terroristic acts,” he added.
The new law took effect on July 18, but the Anti-Terrorism Council has yet to draw up its implementing rules and regulations.
Sixteen petitions seeking to stop the enforcement of the law have been filed before the Supreme Court. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)