MALACAÑANG is not funding pro-Duterte trolls, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said yesterday, stressing that the government does not spend for defending the administration and attacking its critics or skewing discussion on the Internet.
“I can assure you that there is no budgetary line item for payment of trolls in the social media as far as this administration is concerned,” said in Roque in his regular press briefing.
“And again I can only point to myself as living proof that there cannot be any official funding or even sanction on the activities of pro-Duterte trolls because as I said, had this been the case, then we would have prevented the vicious attacks against me,” he added.
The spokesperson, however, emphasized that the government continues to maximize the usage of social media to boost the administration’s accomplishments.
“So we continue to utilize social media in promoting the accomplishments and the messages of the administration,” he said.
“Obviously, we don’t use it for partisan or political purposes because there’s no election until 2022,” he added.
Last week, American news network MSNBC reported on how fake news spread through Facebook played a huge role in Duterte’s successful election campaign in 2016.
In the 10-minute segment, MSNBC’s The Beat news anchor Ari Melber reported that three employees of Facebook flew to the Philippines and spent a week holding training sessions with candidates’ campaign teams, including Duterte’s.
“But giving tips to a few campaigns in a constitutional democracy can be different in giving tips to this authoritarian Duterte. And Facebook learned that quickly,” Melber said.
Roque had disputed the report, asserting that all candidates in the 2016 national elections utilized social media for their campaigns.