No intention to restrain freedom of speech in bid to regulate social media use – AFP chief Gapay

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2020   •   379

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay on Wednesday clarified that the military has no intention of imposing “prior restraint” on freedom of expression when he proposed the regulation of social media under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law.

Gapay made the clarification during the deliberation of the Commission on Appointments on his nomination to a rank of a general.

He said his proposal is not tantamount to curtailing the people’s freedom of expression as he stressed that the goal is to regulate social media platforms and service providers and not its users.

Gapay said that based on intelligence reports and their experience, terrorist groups often use the social media and the internet to recruit new members and solicit money and support from their sympathizers and other sources to fund their criminal acts.

“These terror cells are operating particularly in the dark web in the internet. And these are the things that we really want to regulate and address because they really communicate with each other through the internet,” he said.

“That is why in close coordination with social media platforms, perhaps we could come up with mechanisms on how to address these acts enumerated in the 2020 Anti-Terror Law,” he added.

Gapay earlier said he wants to include a provision that will regulate the usage of social media in the implementing rules and regulations of the controversial measure. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

NUPL files motion to halt implementation of Anti-Terrorism Act

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2020

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has filed a motion with the Supreme Court (SC) to halt the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The lawyers’ group believes the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism Law did not clarify the reported unconstitutional provisions included in the said law. The group filed an omnibus motion requesting for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the law’s implementation.

NUPL Secretary General Ephraim Cortez said it worsened after more provisions were added which violates human rights. These include the red-tagging of various personalities including Liza Soberano, Angel Locsin, and Catriona Gray.

“Ito iyong nakita naming remedyo upang temporarily huwag muna ma-implement itong IRR at hoping may result din ano sa paghupa ng red-tagging na nangyayari (This is a remedy to temporarily suspend the implementation of the IRR, and we hope this would result in the decrease of the current red-tagging),” he said.

Cortez also added that the Anti-Terrorism Law gives Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. the confidence to red-tag celebrities which drew criticisms from several netizens.

“Nalalagyan niya ng legal basis iyong kanilang ginagawa ito ang sinasabi natin from the very beginning in our opposition to the passage of this law binibigyan niya ngayon ng justification ang mga red-taggers tulad ni Parlade to do it, (Parlade was able to have a legal basis to do this [red tagging]. This is what we have been saying from the very beginning of our opposition to the passage of this law. [The law] is giving justification for red-taggers like Parlade to do it),” Cortez said.

Meanwhile, the oral arguments for the petitions filed at the Supreme Court is set to begin in mid-November, according to SC Chief Diosdado Peralta. He said the oral arguments was supposed to begin in September but it was delayed due to the number of petitions filed against the said law.

“When we’ll go back to the session on November 3, I hope, I hope she will be ready to submit to us the issues to be argued and set the preliminary conference,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

AFP Chief meets with Muslim leaders in Metro Manila to discuss anti-terrorism efforts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 27, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay met with Muslim leaders in Metro Manila to discuss anti-terrorism efforts in the country.

Gapay said the meeting aims to join the forces of the military and Muslim leaders to curb terrorism and other criminal activities that plague the country.

“Our common aspiration is for the good of everyone. Peace, development, security and stability for our country is our primordial concern,” he said.

The AFP official also said the military wants to boost communication with all communities to give the public a better understanding of the military’s goals, especially when implementing anti-terrorism guidelines.

He also wants to further protect schools and orphanages against possible terrorist group recruitment.

“It is also our common aspiration to protect and shield the educational institution, including madaris (Islamic schools) from unscrupulous sectors of society,” Gapay added. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

AFP activates disaster response as Typhoon Quinta lashes Luzon

Marje Pelayo   •   October 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has activated all its disaster response units to help in the relief efforts along the path of Typhoon Quinta.

In a statement on Sunday, AFP Spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo announced that AFP Chief-of-Staff, General Gilbert Gapay ordered all units to be prepared for deployment and assist local government units and other relevant agencies in any event of preventive or forced evacuation.

Arevalo added that the AFPCS has also directed all ground commanders in areas along the path of the typhoon to exercise all precautionary measures necessary to ensure the safety of military personnel and equipment including aircraft, ships and other key assets.

Arevalo hopes that all affected residents will heed calls for evacuation and take advantage of the AFP assistance ahead and at the onset of the weather disturbance. MNP / Julie Anne Gernale

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