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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Defund Duterte’s disinformation machinery

05:05 AM October 02, 2020

The Duterte administration’s so-called “whole-of-nation” approach in dealing with the communist movement has been exposed as nothing more than a costly “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

It is infuriating that public funds were utilized to spread disinformation targeting activists, leftists, and other critics of the government.

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The military said it supports the advocacy of the social media pages removed by Facebook. This is an incriminating admission, since the banned accounts are known for red-tagging, demonization of activism, vilification of people’s resistance, and promoting hate and even violence against leaders of activist groups.

It would have made a lot of sense if the military cyberunits used the resources generously provided by the state to challenge Chinese trolls and counter the illegal claims of the Chinese government that violate our sovereignty. This is an advocacy worth supporting without the need to resort to disinformation.

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We call on legislators to defund the disinformation machinery of the Duterte administration. Congress should rigorously study the military budget and impose stringent requirements to ensure that public funds are not used to commit human rights abuses.

There should be an official investigation and audit regarding the funds used for the military’s disinformation campaign. The Facebook findings should be made a reference to probe the liability of army officers involved in the illegal cyberoperation. Those found guilty must be penalized and be made to account for their crimes.

This is not a victimless crime. Duterte and the military weaponized social media to harass, intimidate, and terror-tag numerous activists. This insidious propaganda operation is often followed by actual acts of violence directed against activists, which include instances of enforced disappearances, frustrated murder, and extrajudicial killings.

We continue to ask all tech companies not to be complicit in Duterte’s reign of terror.

We reiterate our demand for the junking of the “whole-of-nation” approach and, instead, pursue a policy that will genuinely address the roots of the armed conflict.

Mong Palatino,
chair, Bayan Metro Manila,
[email protected]

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TAGS: communist, disinformation, Duterte, red-tagging
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