By Daniel Llanto

Sen. Panfilo Lacson believes that the sudden surge of fake Facebook accounts is the handiwork of critics of the controversial anti-terror bill but the increasing number of the measure’s critics who have been threatened and vilified on-line suggests otherwise.

Lacson said Facebook users opposed to the measure may be behind the sudden rise of fake Facebook accounts to spread “fear and disinformation” against the proposed measure. The National Bureau of Investigation, National Privacy Commission and Facebook administrator are conducting separate investigations.

A former National Police chief, Lacson has been defending the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which seeks to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007, saying the measure was designed to be tough on terrorists and tougher on law enforcers who will abuse their power under the proposed law.

It was noted that the bogus FB accounts use the identity of university students and alumni who have expressed their opposition to the anti-terror bill.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the fake FB accounts actually threaten those opposed to the measure.

“The students are worried that these accounts may be used to plant bogus evidence that would implicate them in crimes outlined in the anti-terror bill,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

“We demand that Facebook investigate this incident and find the culprits behind it,” he said.

“We must not allow social media to be used as a platform for identity theft, intimidation, or worse a tool to plant bogus evidence,” he said.

The #JunkTerrorBill has been trending on-line for several days as Filipino netizens feared that the proposed measure may be used to jail anyone who criticizes the government.

Pangilinan said he himself had been bashed and insulted by the fake FB accounts for his stand on the anti-terror bill.  His daughter with wife Sharon Cuneta, Frankie, noted that her father was called by one “Kiko Unggoy” in reference to an old cartoon character Kiko Matsing.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Sec. Gen. Renato Reyes condemned a social media post showing him with horns.

Reyes said, “This is the kind of climate where the anti-terror bill will be implemented. It is a climate of impunity and abuse of authority. We will not take this sitting down.”

Mica Santos, a college senior, has two invitations from strangers in her FB Messenger.  One is a blind spam message inviting her to yet another insurance seminar, which Mica deleted.

The other message is from another person named Mica. In fact, from someone with her exact name.  It said:  “Akala nyo magaling kayo? May oras ka din.”

Another senior, John, read a message from another John: “Handa ka na ba mamatay? Tuloy mo lang mga hashtag mo boy.”

One stranger offered to buy a number of items from an on-line seller and asked for a quote and her PayPal which the seller gave.  But the stranger replied. “Salamat sa email mo. Susundan ka na ng militar.”

Mica, John and Dee looked up on-line their own names and found new accounts with their names. The accounts have no photos, friends or posts. They seem newly made.

Over the last few days, more than a handful of Facebook users have reported the appearance of “doppelganger” accounts with their names. Some received similar distressful messages from the clones, with a few referring to terrorism, political actions and threats of military surveillance. A number of users feel they are being targeted for their political views, linking the threats to vocal opinions on-line and participation in activism.

So, Sen. Pangilinan concluded that it was people supporting the anti-terror bill who are behind the fake Facebook accounts, not the other way around.