THERE WAS no such thing as "keyboard army" purportedly hired by the current administration to boost public support for President Rodrigo Duterte on social media, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said on Friday.

Andanar issued the denial after United States-based human rights group Freedom House reported that the Philippine government employed a so-called "keyboard army" to make people believe that Duterte' policies and programs, including his war on illegal drugs, enjoyed massive support.

Duterte's communications chief denied the Freedom House's report, stressing that the President does not need to hire a group of individuals that would trick the public with regard to his drug war because he has the support of 16 million Filipino people.

"The Presidential Communications Operations Office does not employ a 'keyboard army'. What President Duterte has are millions of supporters, 16 million of which turned up at polling precincts throughout the land," Andanar said.

"With that said, we’re quite interested in how Freedom House created its report and would appreciate it if they can also share how they gathered their data," he added.

Freedom House accused the Duterte administration of paying each part of the hired "keyboard army" around P500 a day to "spread and amplify" messages of support of Duterte's policies.

It added that other reports put the figure at P2,000 to P3,000 a day for those who are operating fake social media accounts.

"Reports of commenters paid to manipulate the online information landscape increased during the coverage period. News reports citign individuals involved said the commenters, which they characterized as part of a 'keyboard army,' could earn at least P500 ($10) a day operating fake social media accounts supporting President Duterte or attacking his detractors," it said.

"Other reports put the figure at P2,000 to P3,000 ($40 to $60) a day. Some reports noted the use of automated accounts or bots to spread political content. Similar content was also posted by volunteers," the report added. (SunStar Philippines)