Former Duterte social media man Nic Gabunada turns down DOF contract

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MANILA (UPDATE) – Nicanor Gabunada, President Rodrigo Duterte’s former social media strategist who has been linked to a network of fake pro-Duterte Facebook pages, has declined a deal offered by the Finance Ministry following criticism.

The DOF previously awarded Gabunada a 6-month 909,122.40 plus contract to participate in government awareness campaigns on pending economic bills and proposed reforms for capital market development.

In a message to ABS-CBN, Gabunada said, “I didn’t push through.”

He did not specify the reasons for his decision.

The contract earlier drew criticism online because of Gabunada’s link to several Facebook accounts and pages that were deleted in 2019 due to “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” according to the social media giant.

Several other communications experts also criticized the DOF’s decision.

Reacting to press reports highlighting his affiliation with the closed pages, Gabunada said “it is regrettable that malice has been blamed”.

But the DOF earlier said the decision to hire Gabunada was “legal and honest.”

Facebook said earlier that it had hired an AI-based solution as well as teams of human experts to track and remove “bad actors” on the platform around the world.

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