Lawmakers are free to investigate “all they want” on reports that public funds are being used to run “troll farms,” Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Around 12 senators on Monday filed a resolution calling for an investigation into the spending of government funds for the creation of troll farms to target critics of the Duterte administration and potential opponents in 2022.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque welcomed senators’ call for an investigation, claiming that he himself is a victim of these trolls.
“We welcome the investigation that will be launched by the Senate. You know it is an independent branch of government and they cannot be dictated. So they can investigate all they want,” he said partly in Filipino in a Palace press briefing.
Roque urged the lawmakers to also investigate trolls attacking him, citing a study that showed that he is among the top personalities being harassed by trolls.
“Please also investigate the trolls who are attacking me because according to a study, I am the most targeted by trolls. And I believe that the attacks against me are also organized,” he added partly in Filipino.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Richard “Dick” Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva on Monday filed proposed Senate Resolution 768 asking the appropriate Senate Committee to probe the alleged state-funded trolls.
Citing information disclosed by Lacson, the senators said an incumbent government undersecretary has allegedly been preparing troll farms across the country ahead of the 2022 elections.
“Filipinos should know why government spends public funds on troll farm operators disguised as ‘public relations practitioners’ and ‘social media consultants’ who sow fake news rather than on Covid-19 assistance, health care, food security, jobs protection, education, among others,” the senators said.
Meanwhile, Roque also welcomed De Lima’s resolution pushing the Senate to probe “significant gains, shortcomings, and accountabilities” of the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“It is okay with us so we won’t be wasting the salary she receives. We hope she can attend but it looks like she can’t attend,” he said partly in Filipino.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 2017.
The government has insisted that de Lima is facing drug-related charges due to her supposed role in the drug proliferation inside the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary.
De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 770, claiming that there have been “no notable achievements” in terms of effectively neutralizing any drug syndicate other than kill suspected low-level drug peddlers.