The House of Representatives will investigate Facebook’s actions, including its removal of several pro-government pages thar are detrimental to freedom of expression in the Philippines, Speaker Alan Cayetano said Wednesday.
Cayetano urged Facebook Philippines to “reflect on the soundness of its actions” after President Rodrigo Duterte cited the social media network for favoring certain segments at the expense of those supporting the government.
“As the House of the People is currently preoccupied in the plenary proceedings of the 2021 Government Budget, we call on Facebook Philippines to take this time to introspect and reflect on the soundness of its actions that tend to undermine the democratic principles upon which its phenomenal success is based,” Cayetano said in a statement posted on his Facebook account late Tuesday.
He issued the call a day after Duterte questioned Facebook’s decision to delete pages and personal accounts that have been vocal against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
One such page, Hands Off Our Children, as well as the accounts of several people associated with it, were recently deleted by Facebook without an explanation.
“We note with grave concern the recent reports that Facebook is being partisan by allegedly deactivating verified accounts of Filipinos who have voiced their support for our soldiers and police officers, as well as their respective organizations and advocacies,” Cayetano said in his post.
“Yet at the same time (Facebook) continue(s) to allow the proliferation of Facebook accounts, pages and communities that directly call for the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government, or altogether support outright terrorism in our country and among our people.”
Cayetano said while the government “always welcomes” dissent and protest, “we should never tolerate violence and terrorism.”
Duterte had issued a proclamation in December 2017 declaring the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations, following similar designations by the United States and the European Union.
Cayetano said favoring one sector or ideology — especially one that had been tagged by the international community as a terrorist organization — “directly contradicts Facebook’s core purpose of connecting all people globally in a free, open and neutral marketplace of ideas.”
He said after passing the 2021 National Budget, the House of Representatives would “initiate the appropriate proceedings in aid of legislation to truly determine if the reported actions of Facebook are detrimental to the Constitutional freedom of expression guaranteed to all Filipinos regardless of political color, rich or poor, left or right.”