MANILA -- Malacañang on Monday assured the public that no government funds were used to pay for the creation of Facebook accounts, groups, and pages which supported President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after around 200 pro-Duterte accounts, groups, and pages operating in a network built by communications strategist Nicanor Gabunada Jr. were taken down for involvement in a “coordinated and inauthentic behavior”.
“I don’t think the President has anything to do with those Facebook accounts which were initiated during the campaign or even during the assumption of his presidency. He doesn’t know anything about it,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“The President has nothing to do with that and we’ll not allow that,” he added.
Gabunada, Social Media Director of the Duterte Campaign, claimed he was being “singled out” for having his account/s taken down while accounts which belonged to those who supported the opposition were not.
Facebook head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher, however, said that Gabunada’s network was removed for misleading people using a network of fake accounts.
Panelo emphasized that other candidates including the opposition have utilized social media to win the election.
Moreover, he said even without the strong social media influence which may have helped boost his chances of winning the presidential seat, the overwhelming majority voted him into office.
“Both sides were very active during the campaign. It’s still the people who decided and most of them are not in social media. The overwhelming majority that voted him into office -- I don’t think they have Facebook accounts of whatever. These are the masses,” Panelo said.
Panelo further said Duterte was elected into office because his campaign promises as a candidate resonated with the masses.
“His time was just right. The Filipino people needed somebody like him and his entry was just the appropriate time,” Panelo said.
Duterte, who promised to fight drugs, crime, and corruption, won the elections by a landslide 16.6 million votes. (PNA)