Palace spokesman Harry Roque said detained Sen. Leila de Lima could go ahead and investigate the alleged existence of government-sponsored troll armies that “distort and manipulate online information in various social media platforms.”

De Lima on May 15 cited international studies state that found “online trolls” were being paid P500 a day, with a total of $200,000 already spent to “manipulate online discussions on national issues for political ends.”

“These funds are better spent on education, alleviating poverty and improving our healthcare system,” de Lima said.

Roque in a Malacañang briefing said de Lima could proceed with her own probe if she wished.

“Sige po, imbestigahan ni Senator Leila de Lima iyan kung gusto niya, wala pong pumipigil sa kaniya,” the spokesman said.

According to Senate Resolution No. 401, the “troll armies” were spearheaded by “bloggers and social media personalities that have been appointed in various government posts for their rabid support of Mr. Duterte.”

De Lima said some of them were still “admins” of blogs and social media pages known to propagate fake news.

“Manipulation of public opinion through misinformation diminishes the level and quality of our national conversation and is ultimately detrimental to our democracy,” de Lima said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro