AFP chief wants to regulate social media platforms, not users

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) - Following his recent proposal to include social media use in the scope of the controversial anti-terrorism law, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay clarified that he wants to put an order on the contents allowed to be uploaded on different social media platforms and not the users.

“What I meant by that is to regulate and put order on the social media platforms, not the users per se,” said Gapay in an interview with CNN Philippines.

“We are not here to curtail the freedom of expression of the users […] But what I’m saying is to regulate the platforms on the contents they allow to be uploaded,” he added.

The newly-minted AFP chief drew criticisms over his suggestion on the implementing rules and regulations of the said law, which is to closely supervise the online activities of suspected terrorists.

Gapay maintained that the premise of his statement was that social media is being used as a “vehicle” by terrorist groups to recruit or even plan attacks.

“The web is very open and na-capitalize ito ng (it was capitalized by) various terrorist groups, not just local groups, but also global terrorist cells,” he said.

“Hindi na minsan nache-check [yung mga contents] (The contents are not being checked), you will see violent, indecent materials uploaded.”

READ: No social media regulation, Lorenzana says, but AFP cites need to keep it away from terrorists

He cited that some countries are coordinating with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to take a look into the contents being uploaded on these platforms.

Gapay added that they are open to have the same effort in combating terrorism in the country.

“We are proposing the idea through DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), if we could coordinate with these social media platforms to somehow regulate yung mga ina-upload nila sa kanilang platforms (those being uploaded in their platforms). Like violent materials, like terrorist groups beheading their captives and even bomb-making, it's all in the Internet,” he said.

Among the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act is that suspected terrorists can be detained without a warrant of arrest to up to 24 days.

Critics pointed out that the measure can be prone to abuse, but supporters and lawmakers who authored the law defended that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear about it.

Signed on July 3 into law, the measure took effect last July 18 even without implementing rules and regulations.