Duterte critics could be making fake accounts: Palace

MANILA -- MalacaAang on Monday dismissed the remark made by Marites Vitug, editor-at-large of online news site Rappler, claiming that fake social media accounts are behind continuous attacks against them.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described Vitug's claim as fake news noting that she failed to present proof that government is really paying people to create these accounts.

She may have verified it as a fake account but does she have proof that the government is paying to create that account? Panelo told PNA in a text message.

It could be that it's the detractors of PRRD creating those fake accounts and then point to the government as the source of those fake accounts. Very convenient for them to do that, don't you think so? he added.

Vitug, in a recent interview with NHK World Japan, said that Rappler has been receiving threats from fake accounts on social media and suspected these were being funded by government.

The threats (Rappler receives) come from online, social media, and fake accounts. Rappler was able to trace some of these accounts and they're fake. And the suspicion is they are funded by government, Vitug said.

The President of the Philippines is autocratic, he's intolerant of criticism from the media and also from his opponents. So, he uses state agencies to go against independent media, she added.

Panelo pointed out that Vitug is a known Duterte detractor and supporter of Duterte's staunch critics including detained Senator Leila de Lima and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Last year, Trillanes claimed that the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) was using part of its budget to finance administration trolls on social media.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar has repeatedly denied employing a keyboard army to attack the President's critics.

Last month, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was arrested over cyber libel charges filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng after he was named as the owner of a sports utility vehicle used by the late Chief Justice Renato Corona in the article titled, "CJ using SUVs of 'controversial' businessmen published on its website.

Critics described Ressa's arrest as an attack against press freedom.

However, Palace cited her violation of the country's laws, noting that rule of law was followed in her arrest.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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