New AFP chief wants anti-terror law to regulate social media

Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay wants to regulate social media use through the recently signed Anti-Terrorism Law.
According to him, terrorists are reportedly using social media to radicalize and recruit younger members.

“We’ll be providing some inputs on countering violent extremism and likewise, maybe regulating, even regulating social media because this is the platform now being used by terrorists to radicalize, to recruit and even plan terrorist acts,” Gapay said Monday, August 3.

“That’s why we need to have specific provisions in the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) pertaining to regulating the use of social media,” he added.

Newly-appointed Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay | Philstar.com photo

The AFP chief vowed that they would capitalize the anti-terror law to stop terrorism while suspected terrorists are still at the planning stage.

“We will capitalize on this very, very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive and it is geared to prevent the occurrence of terroristic acts. So pinaplano pa lang nila, dapat masa-stop na natin (we should be able to stop them as they are still planning),” Gapay said.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana noted that the controversial law’s IRR is still a work in progress.

“I believe all of us will be provided a draft of the IRR, look at it, so that we can place our input there. It’s still a work in progress. We have 90 days since the signing of the law to come up with the IRR. So, we still have the time to carefully study what we will do with the IRR,” he said.

Palace: Terror law cannot be used to regulate social media

Malacañang, on the other hand, said the anti-terror law cannot regulate the usage of social media.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque pointed out that the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 has no provision that would allow the regulation of social media use.

“Unang-una po, opinyon po iyan ni General Gapay. Dahil binasa ko naman po ang Anti-Terror Law wala pong probisyon doon na magagamit laban sa social media (First of all, that is General Gapay’s opinion. I have the Anti-Terror Law, there is no provision there on social media),” he said Tuesday, August 4.

“Ang mayroon po diyan iyong ating cybercrimes law ‘no. May probisyon po diyan, pero subject po iyan sa authority na ibibigay ng ating hukuman (What’s there is the cyber crimes law. There is a provision for that but that is subject to the authority given by the court),” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon likewise branded Gapay’s proposal as “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”

“That will go beyond the real intent of the law and, therefore, it is illegal and unconstitutional,” he said.

“Freedom of speech is a sacred and inviolable right of every human being. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech,” the senator added.

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