AFP links nearly 80 social media accounts to terrorists; DICT poised for first ‘cyber sedition’ case


Maricel Halili and Gerard dela Peña, News5 | InterAksyon
Published: June 14, 2017, 2:57 PM  ( Updated: June 15, 2017, 4:20 AM )

AFP links nearly 80 social media accounts to terrorists; DICT poised for first ‘cyber sedition’ case

ISIS graffiti painted on a wall in an alley in Marawi City. Propaganda via the internet on behalf of ISIS and terror groups constitutes a crime, the AFP and DICT said, and are moving to take down sites and social media accounts and prosecute some people.

MANILA – The military has identified nearly 80 social media accounts being used by terrorists, and is moving to have these taken down.

This, as the Department of Information Communication and Technology (DICT) said earlier it was poised to file the first “cyber sedition” charge against a group hosting a pro-terrorist site.

According to Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson BGen. Restituto Padilla, the bigger problem beyond the takedown is pursuing the persons and groups operating the dozens of sites.

It is also possible that only one person or group or a few of them are handling all the accounts, he added.

The AFP declined to give further details on the 80 accounts, saying this might jeopardize efforts to collar the parties involved.

The AFP had earlier appealed to netizens to stop sharing content from the sites in order to prevent being used for the propaganda campaigns of the terrorists, particularly those aligned or seeking recognition or funding from the Islamic State of Iraq and syria (ISIS).

“It only solves the closing of the account. The individuals behind those accounts are the more important target of our operation,” said Padilla.

Salalima’s revelation

On Tuesday, DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima had said at a Palace press briefing that they are about to seek the arrest for Cyber Sedition – or using the Internet to rally people to rebel against government – of one party whom he did not identify.

Salalima said the DICT is “involved” in the AFP operations to take down the websites and social media accounts of those spreading propaganda for the ISIS.

The group targeted for arrest is related to the Maute Group, which is leading local terrorists in fighting government forces in Marawi.

“We are involved – confidential – may huhulihin na [Someone will be arrested]. Cyber sedition . . . We are not going to name the persons. We are able to track about more than one last night.”

“To the extent that they effect, they commit cyber crimes, then DICT takes over. Remember, rebellion, sedition, are crimes under the old penal code. You do sedition, you incite people via the internet, I call it . . . .cyber rebellion, there is cyber sedition. But [with] rebellion, there must be a taking up of arms. So [if it’s] online, it could amount to cyber sedition.”

Salalima did not confirm if those targeted for arrest are among those holding 63 Facebook accounts that AFP had earlier Facebook Philippines to take down for “poisoning” the minds of Filipinos.