Leftist lawmaker, Kabataan Partylist Representative Terry Ridon said he believes the Philippine government has hired “cyber armies” to influence opinion on the internet. “Many social media experts have repeatedly pointed out how the Aquino administration has systematically deployed cyber armies – aka Internet trolls – to sway public opinion online, especially in times of political crisis,” Ridon said.
Ridon said that the Aquino administration seems to be following the trend started by nations like Russia, Britain, and China. These nations allegedly employ thousands to create troll accounts to post comments, make memes, and participate in online forums to sway public opinion, Ridon noted.
The leftist lawmaker added that Filipino taxpayers may be bankrolling these alleged paid trolls through the P1.4 billion average annual “black budget” or the part of the national budget allotted for classified and secret operations.
“In the US Congress, the ‘black budget’ – an appropriation that is confidential in nature and is used for intelligence gathering, covert operations, and secret military research – is always hotly debated come budget season. In the Philippines, we also have a black budget, which amounts to an average of P1.4 billion annually,” Ridon said. “It’s called a black budget because even legislators are left in the dark about the real purpose of the said funds.”
“We challenge the Executive Department to disclose its employment of paid trolls to wage online propaganda for the president and his men. We also challenge the Aquino administration to disclose details on the use of confidential and intelligence funds – even through an executive session of the House,” Ridon said.