Press Release
April 16, 2022

Drilon 'congratulates' trolls
Drilon says veto of SIM Card Registration Bill a win for trolls, a big blow to fight vs trolls and fake news

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon "congratulated" troll farm operators, online bullies and fake news spreaders, who hide behind the anonymity in the social media in spreading lies and discord, for the President's veto of the bill seeking to mandate the registration of all SIM cards and social media accounts that would have unmasked them.

"By vetoing this bill, the President lets trolls thrive, spread lies and hate, and fuel discord and division," Drilon said in a statement Saturday.

"Political trolling as we've seen these days is a thriving business. This veto is a big win for troll farms," he added.

"This veto is meant to protect trolls. Is it a parting gift? Magpapatuloy ang industriya ng trolling," said Drilon as he expressed extreme disappointment.

"To say that I am disappointed by the President's veto is an understatement. I authored this particular provision of the measure in order to address the anonymity in the internet and the social media that allowed an environment for troll accounts and fake news," Drilon said.

Drilon lamented that the veto is a big blow to the growing fight against trolls and fake news, explaining that as long as the anonymity in the social media exists, political trolling, troll armies and fake news will continue to succeed in sowing discord and division among the Filipino people.

He cited as an example of the works of trolls the attack against Vice president Leni Robredo's eldest daughter Aika who is the latest victim of disinformation and harassment by online trolls and troll armies.

"She is only one of the thousands of victims of trolls and fake news. Some of them are children who may bear the scars of bullying and trolling for life. The bill could have helped in preventing trolls and fake news," Drilon said.

Drilon said the concerns that the measure could affect individual privacy and free speech cited in the veto message are unfounded.

Drilon said that Section 9 of the bill provides for the confidentiality clause which mandates that "any information obtained in the registration process described under this Act cannot be disclosed to any person."

The disclosure may only be done in compliance with any law obligating the PTE or social media provider to disclose such information in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act. No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012; in compliance with a court order, legal process, or other government regulatory, or enforceable administrative request for information; in compliance with Section 10 of the bill; or with the written consent of the subscriber, he explained.

"There were enough safeguards. Unfortunately, the veto is nothing but to protect troll operators and troll armies, some of them are in Malacanang," Drilon said, citing the thousands of contractual employees at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) suspected of running troll accounts. The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the PCOO for hiring too many alleged consultants.

Drilon also disputed claims that the provision that he introduced in the proposed SIM Card Registration Act was an out of topic provision.

"It's not a last-minute insertion. We studied it and introduced it in the Senate plenary as part of our humble contribution in the fight against trolls, fake news and other internet-related criminal activities. Twenty-two senators voted in favor of the measure on third reading last December. The House of Representatives adopted our version with little modification," Drilon said.

Drilon explained that the title of the bill clearly set out the overarching objective of the measure which is to eradicate mobile phone, internet or electronic communication-aided criminal activities including terrorism, text scams, bank fraud anonymous online defamation, trolling, and fake news, among others.

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