Robredo fears of Chinese interference in 2022 polls with Facebook propaganda

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — Vice President Leni Robredo has questioned China's hand in the 2022 elections in the Philippines following the hordes of China-based fake social media accounts found boosting personalities, specifically the presidential daughter, for the upcoming polls.

"Anong ginagawa ng China sa domestic affairs natin? Ito, kailangan tayo dito matakot. Kasi bakit? Ano ang interes ninyo sa eleksyon?" she said in her weekly radio show on Sunday. "Pinapakita ba na iyong interes niyo dahil ito din iyong pagpo-protect sa sarili n’yong interests?"

[Translation: What is China doing in our domestic affairs. We need to be scared and alarmed because we have to ask what is their stake in our elections? Are they protecting their own interests?]

Last week, the social media giant shut down over 180 bogus Facebook and Instagram accounts and pages originating in China for foreign or government interference in the Philippines. Facebook said these accounts, based in the Fujian province of China, targeted Filipinos by posting fervent support for the possible 2022 presidential campaign of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio — the daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte.

Manila and Beijing continue to enjoy warmer ties during the presidential term of Duterte, who has held back on enforcing the arbitral award for the sake of better bilateral ties with China. Only recently has he spoken up firmly against the "undermining" of the 2016 ruling on South China Sea.

The Vice President, who has been a constant victim of fake news on Facebook, warned the social media interference may signal bigger problems for the country's sovereignty.

"Nakakatakot ito kasi may kinalaman ito sa soberanya natin. Kasi anong interes ng foreign body na makialam at manira ng mga tao dito sa atin?" she asked.

[Translation: This is worrisome because this is related to our sovereignty? What do they have to gain by interfering and criticizing Philippine personalities?]

She warned of its dangers as some social media users easily believe the misinformation posted online.