Makati lawmaker blocks Facebook messages on anti-terror bill vote

Mara Cepeda
Makati lawmaker blocks Facebook messages on anti-terror bill vote
As users share that they were blocked, Makati City 2nd District Representative Luis Campos says his social media page managers are 'just being careful' since there are 'many trolls'

MANILA, Philippines – Makati City 2nd District Representative Luis Campos barred several Facebook users from messaging him again after they urged him to withdraw his yes vote on the controversial anti-terror bill.

In a Twitter thread posted by the Makati chapter of leftist group Anakbayan, several Twitter users shared screenshots of Campos’ official Facebook page blocking them on Facebook Messenger after they sent messages urging him to take back his support for the anti-terror bill.

Campos confirmed to Rappler on Monday, June 8, that his social media team did go on a blocking spree, but only because dummy accounts on Facebook spiked over the weekend.

But he argued that this is a “non-issue,” considering the proliferation of trolls on the popular social media platform.

“I am sure my social media page managers are just being careful and double-checking user accounts in light of [the] troll farm pandemic…. Non-issue naman ‘yan eh! Alam mo namang may mga troll, maraming troll (That’s a non-issue! As you know, there are trolls, many trolls),” Campos said.

But pressed further that the messages were sent by real people, some of whom are his constituents in Makati, Campos said he would be answering them “in the proper venue.”

“If they’re real people, I will answer them properly in the proper venue,” the congressman said.

Campos, however, did not elaborate anymore and said he had to drop the phone call already since he had several other commitments to attend to on Monday.

The Makati congressman was among the 168 legislators who voted yes to House Bill No. 6875, which would widen the net as to whom the government can tag as terrorists while at the same time lessening the restrictions on law enforcement agents who would conduct the arrests.

There were initially 173 affirmative votes for the anti-terror bill during the House session on June 3. But a day later, this was reduced by 5 after it was announced in the plenary that there were “technical errors” in the recording of electronic votes.

The House has been holding virtual sessions since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

In the succeeding days, other legislators like Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda and Bulacan 3rd District Representative Lorna Silverio decided to change their yes votes to abstain.

To date, the House has yet to release an official breakdown of how lawmakers voted on the anti-terrorism bill.

Civic groups, human rights lawyers, and several legislators have warned the measure is more dangerous than the Human Security Act of 2007, as its provisions could be used to crack down on government dissenters. (READ: Lawmakers fear fake Facebook accounts meant for ‘online tanim-ebidensiya’– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.