Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday has denied the report of the United States-based human rights watchdog Freedom House that the Philippine government hired a “keyboard army” to boost President Rodrigo Duterte’s public support.
“The Presidential Communications Operations Office does not employ a ‘keyboard army,” said Andanar on Friday, November 17, in a statement sent to reporters.
In a report posted by Freedom House, it was claimed that the hired keyboard armies could earn $10 (P500) up to $60 (P3,000) daily to spread words of support for the administration and also to attack its critics.
The report said that the keyboard armies are operating fake social media accounts during May 2016 elections.
“In the Philippines, news reports citing former members of a “keyboard army” said they could earn $10 per day operating fake social media accounts that supported Rodrigo Duterte or attacked his detractors in the run-up to his May 2016 election as president; many have remained active under his administration, amplifying the impression of widespread support for his brutal crackdown on the drug trade,” the report said.
Andanar also questioned how Freedom House created its report.
“With that said, we’re quite interested in how Freedom House created its report and would appreciate it if they can also share how they gathered their data,’ Andanar said.
“What President Duterte has are millions of supporters, 16 million of which turned up at polling precincts throughout the country,” he added.
According to the report, automated accounts or bots, as well as volunteers were used to spread political content.