• CBCP backs shutdown of extremists’ accounts

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    THE influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has thrown its support behind the move of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to seek the closure of social media accounts being used for propaganda by the terrorists who attacked Marawi City.

    Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP Permanent Committee on Public Affaris, on Wednesday said the closure of Facebook accounts is not a curtailment of the freedom of expression if these violate the social media platform’s terms and conditions.

    Secillano said the use of social media in spreading propaganda about rebellion and terrorism runs counter to the tenets of freedom of information, because it causes more harm than good to the people.

    “Facebook has its own internal regulations. Those who subscribe to this social networking tool should subject themselves to these regulations. Fake news and jihad propaganda should not be allowed to proliferate. Those who do it should even be charged for perjury or inciting to rebellion,” Secillano said in an interview with the Church-run Radyo Veritas.

    He added: “Restriction to freedom of expression should not even be an issue in this regard. It’s a choice between public good vs. private good. May a government or institution allow an individual to pose threat or harm to the public just because he wants to do it? No! Because that freedom is not and cannot be absolute especially if in the exercise of it, the public good is jeopardized.”

    Earlier, San Jose Bishop Roberto Mallari, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education, expressed the same view.

    Mallari said the closure of Facebook accounts promoting terrorism is a step forward to peace.

    “Instead of promoting violence we have to promote peace, love. Loving our fellowmen, peace for everyone are what we should promote instead,” Mallari added.

    He also called on the youth, which he called “digital experts,” to lead the campaign on the proper use of social media.

    The AFP has asked Facebook to close down 63 accounts said to be spreading propaganda and misinformation about the ongoing military offensive in Marawi City.

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