Major Gen. Benedict Arevalo, AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations. (PNA File photo)
MANILA – The suggestion of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, to regulate social media was only meant to protect the platform from the infiltration of terrorist groups that could use it as an avenue in furthering their violent goals.
This, according to AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Major Gen. Benedict Arevalo, in an interview over DWDD Tuesday.
He added that Gapay’s suggestions to have social media regulated stemmed from the five-month Battle of Marawi where the terrorist groups managed to get support locally and abroad using the above-mentioned platform.
“Through social media, these terrorist groups were able to get support and reinforcement inside and outside the country. Due to this, a lot of civilians, soldiers, police were killed while thousands of others wounded and a lot of properties were destroyed in the conflict,” Arevalo said in Filipino,
Gapay, he said, is only taking precautions should terrorist groups make use of this tactic to sow terror and violence again.
He added that this shows Gapay’s concern for the well-being of the country’s soldiers and citizens and has no wish of suppressing the rights of those using the various social media.
“The only goal of the AFP chief is to protect the citizenry so have faith in your AFP to serve and protect and always keep your minds open,” he added.
Earlier, AFP spokesperson Marine Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo said by “regulating”, Gapay is looking for the need to explore mechanisms by which would ensure that social media will not be used as a convenient tool to promote terrorism, recruit new members, solicit and generate financial, logistical, and material support from domestic and foreign sources.
He added that if Gapay was to give his inputs to the implementing rules and regulations for Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the AFP chief is aware that the military is just one among other agencies to be consulted and his view is subject to constitutional limitations, existing laws, and regulations.
“The AFP assures the public that it will not curtail and instead protect the people’s right to free speech, assembly, and redress of grievances as enshrined in the Constitution,” Arevalo said. (PNA)