After receiving flak for his comment about regulating social media, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay clarified that his earlier proposal to add social media in the coverage of the anti-terrorism law was for the platforms and not to regulate the users.

Gapay said in an interview with CNN Philippines that it’s not the intention of the military to restrict the freedom of expression of social media users.

“What I mean by that is to regulate and put order on the social media platforms, not the users per se,” the AFP chief said.

“They can upload whatever they want. But, what I’m saying is to regulate the platforms on the content that they allow to be uploaded in the platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson condemned the proposal to regulate social media under the freshly-approved anti-terror law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was also not in favor of the AFP chief’s controversial proposal. The Palace, on the other hand, highlighted that there is no provision in the law that controls social media.

Gapay defended his proposal by highlighting the “alleged” use of social media by terrorist groups which aim to recruit the youth.

“My statement invited interest among several sectors, but really the premise was social media is being used as a vehicle of terrorist groups to recruit, to gain financing in logistics, to radicalize and even plan terrorist attacks,” he said.

“That’s why we were asked to suggest some ideas to the IRR (implementing rules and regulation). Based on our experience in Marawi [siege], this is one of the major challenges we confronted,” he added.

Furthermore, he also claimed that the Maute terrorist group was able to sustain their fight for four months via social media.

“They were able to recruit, to radicalize, and even plan and carry out some attacks in certain communities,” Gapay said.

However, some critics of the Anti-Terrorism Act earlier doubted that the police and military would be fair in executing the measure.

(RJ Espartinez)