Press Release
October 2, 2020

Dela Rosa seeks an inquiry on Facebook censorship

Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa wants an inquiry on the recent censorship action of Facebook, as the latter took down profiles and advocacy pages supporting the Philippine government and its efforts against terrorism.

On Wednesday, Dela Rosa filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 531 directing the appropriate Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the censorship action taken by Facebook with the end in view of ensuring the protection and non-curtailment of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and of expression in the country. The said resolution was primarily referred to the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Dela Rosa mentioned in his resolution, "57 accounts, 31 pages and 20 Instagram profiles were taken down, which included content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte; criticism of Rappler online news website; issues relevant to the overseas Filipino Workers; military activities against terrorism; anti-terrorism law; criticism of communism, youth activist and opposition; posts against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People's Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Dela Rosa specified the removal of "Hands Off Our Children," an advocacy page being run by a group of parents who are allegedly fighting to protect their children against violent extremism. According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the advocacy page provides awareness on the vulnerability of children in the hands of communist-terrorist organizations such as the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA), a listed terrorist organization not only in the Philippines, but also in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

In August of 2019, Dela Rosa, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, conducted hearings on the missing minors who were allegedly recruited by leftist groups to be their members and armed fighters.

"The censorship campaign against child recruitment of the communist terrorist group could hamper the efforts to prevent the spread of violent extremism in the country," Dela Rosa said.

During his televised speech on Monday night, September 28, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte cautioned Facebook on the said censorship move, stating that the social media giant is being allowed by the government to operate in the country with the hopes that it will help push for the government's advocacies. Instead, pro-government groups have been taken down while pages which criticize the administration are allowed to stay on the social media platform.

Dela Rosa emphasized that the Philippines is Facebook's second largest market in Asia, with 76 million users as of July 2020, and projected to reach 88 million by 2025. "There is an urgent need for the Senate to investigate the censorship done by Facebook considering that it affects not only the peace and order, and security of our country but likewise greatly affects every Filipino's freedom of expression as guaranteed by no less than the Philippine Constitution", Dela Rosa said.

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