The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday expressed regret over Facebook’s decision to take down the page of “Hands Off Our Children”, whose advocacy is to prevent minors from being recruited into organizations espousing violent extremism.
In a statement, AFP Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, acknowledged that the page was instrumental to the campaign to raise awareness of the vulnerability of children in the hands of communist front organizations.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines regrets the decision of Facebook to take down the page of Hands Off Our Children, a campaign launched by a group of parents who are fighting to protect their children against violent extremism,” Gapay said. “Its arbitrary shutdown adds to the limited spaces afforded to them and the unsympathetic ears of some sectors.”
The group’s grievances are legitimate and calls against violent extremism are urgent, Gapay said, noting that communist terrorists have been known to recruit and victimize students, conditioning them to become cadres and members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Facebook earlier shut down pages, accounts, groups, and Instagram profiles managed by people allegedly affiliated with the Philippine military and police for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Gapay said the military stands by the parents whose children were recruited by groups allied with communist terrorists.
“The AFP stands by and extends its immutable support to Jacqueline Mendoza, Relissa Lucena, Jovita Antoniano, and Elvy Caalaman, among countless other parents who have become the faces of Hands Off Our Children and were affected by this incident,” he said.
Gapay said the AFP looks to a new partnership with Facebook Philippines that similar legitimate advocacies would be respected, if not uplifted, to prevent the spread of violent extremism and protect Filipino children from the communist terror group. (PNA)