During the continuation of the hearing on the anti-terrorism bills, the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and national defense and security backed the government proposal to empower the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to take down social media accounts that are “inimical to national interest” or are linked to terrorism.
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Senate tackling proposed shutdown of terrorists’ social media accounts
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Shutting down Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts of suspected terrorists and their supporters is among the provisions of the anti-terrorism bills being discussed at the Senate.

During the continuation of the hearing on the anti-terrorism bills, the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and national defense and security backed the government proposal to empower the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to take down social media accounts that are “inimical to national interest” or are linked to terrorism.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, public order committee chair; and Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, national defense committee chair, yesterday said the proposal would be included in the consolidated bill seeking to amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

The two senators acknowledged that such provisions would be “contentious.”

Lacson said the committee consulted a resource person from UP (University of the Philippines) who said that as long as the state exercises its police power to preserve itself, then it is not constitutionally infirm.

Lacson said the provisions of the law should be clear to be able to effectively prevent terrorism.

He said the law should be clear to allow the state to immediately act and exercise its police powers against terrorism.

Roberton Lapuz of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) said some countries like India already have the power to take down social media applications that are deemed “inimical to the national interest.”

“I earlier mentioned that we wanted the DICT to be empowered and to have the authority to be able to shut down social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter and similar other mechanisms,” Lapuz said.

Lapuz’s proposal was supported by Marwil Llasos, anti-terrorism program coordinator of the UP Institute of International Legal Studies.

“Police power of the state can be invoked. The Senate can definitely regulate anything harmful or hurtful to the comfort, public safety, public order. Here we are all aware that social media has been used as a means for radicalization. The state has to preserve itself. We don’t have to wait for something to happen,” Llasos said.

Lacson said Honasan was “interested in the proposed provision since he will be the one to implement it.” Honasan was appointed by President Duterte to be secretary of the DICT.

In the early part of the hearing, Lacson pointed out the need for the amendment of the Human Security Act passed in 2007, which was seen as a dead-letter law. 

He said the only successful implementation was on Nov. 20, when the Taguig regional trial court convicted Nur Supian, the one who set up the Jabal Nur or Tiger Base camp in Marawi.

During the Oct. 1 hearing, Lacson said security, defense officials and other resource persons arrived at a concurrence to amend some provisions of the law, including the redundant provision allowing the person under surveillance to have the right to be informed – as it doesn’t make sense to inform the person to be placed under surveillance.

He said another amendment would be the extension of the period in which a suspected terrorist may be detained, to up to 30 days.

The provision penalizing law enforcers of P500,000 per day in favor of terror suspects who are acquitted is probably one reason why the law is not successfully implemented, he added.

DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY SOCIAL MEDIA
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