The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is coming up with guidelines on use of social media, citing widespread disinformation in cyber space since the start of clashes between government troops and Islamist terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, in southern Philippines on Tuesday.
“The reason these guidelines have to be set and to be given [out]and [to have a]censure part [stems from]the things we have been seeing [online about]the operational environment [that the AFP is playing in],” Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said on Friday.
“[You have seen] that tremendous disinformation clouds or creates a thick fog of war that does not allow [for]or provide a better operational picture of the battlefield and this is one that creates a lot of collateral damage, which we want to avoid,” Padilla added.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense has released do’s and don’ts addressed to the chiefs of the AFP and the Philippine National Police for the duration of martial law, which President Rodrigo Duterte declared on the whole island of Mindanao also on Tuesday.
Amid martial law, the military will “highly encourage” groups such as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to reconsider their announcement on stepping up their attacks on government forces during martial law in Mindanao.
In a televised news briefing in Davao City, Padilla, along with Solicitor General Jose Calida and presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, said the announcement “saddens” the Armed Forces.
Shortly after the declaration, the CPP ordered its supposedly 4,000-strong armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to conduct more offensives as a way of resisting martial law.
“[I]f the NPA will insist [on doing]what they want… we will enforce the law uniformly, no matter who [these]groups are,” Padilla said.
Such attacks that will be initiated by the NPA would only worsen the situation in Mindanao, particularly in Marawi City, according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
If the CPP made good its threat, CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana also on Friday told The Manila Times in a phone interview, the government would have an additional “enemy” to deal with.