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Palace accepts probe of 12 senators on alleged use of public funds for troll farms

By Cheska Imbuido Published Jul 14, 2021 7:52 pm

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Malacañang Palace welcomes the investigation of 12 senators on the alleged state-funded troll farms.

“We welcome the investigation na gagawin ng senado. They can investigate all they want, ” Roque said today, July 14. He added the investigation should also include him since trolls are attacking him.

On July 12, 12 senators filed Senate Resolution No. 768, which calls for the investigation on the alleged use of government funds to pay trolls spreading misinformation and fake news on social media sites.

“Filipinos should know why the government spends public funds on troll farm operators disguised as ‘public relations practitioners’ and ‘social media consultants’ who sow fake news rather than (information) on COVID-19 assistance, healthcare, food security, job protection, education, among others,” the resolution read.

Senate Resolution No. 768  calls for the investigation on the alleged use of government funds to pay trolls.

According to the senators who filed the resolution, the Department of Finance (DOF) awarded a P909,122 communications strategy consultancy contract to a public relations practitioner who was tagged by Facebook as the operator behind a “Pro-Duterte” account, which Facebook took down in March 2019.

They also brought up the case of the Department of Foreign Affairs which awarded a social media consultancy contract to a pro-administration blogger known for posting fake news and attacking critics of the Duterte administration.

The resolution defines a social media troll as “someone who creates conflict on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking an emotional response from other users.”

The senators who are seeking the investigation are Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators such as Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva.