NTC orders blocking of red-tagged websites

Published June 22, 2022, 4:46 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered internet service providers to block 26 websites, including a couple of alternative media sites, “found to be affiliated to and are supporting terrorist and terrorist organizations.”

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba signed the order on June 8 upon therequest of National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on June 6.

NTC asked internet service providers to report the status of the order within five days and as of this writing, Wednesday, June 22, a number of the listed websites are already inaccessible.

The list include the websites of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) founder Jose Maria Sison, as well as progressive groups and independent media such as Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, progressive groups Save Our Schools Network, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Pamalakaya Pilipinas, AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women and BAYAN.

It also includes Philippine Revolution Web Central, Hiyaw, PRWC Newsroom, Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, Compatriots – Revolutionary Organization of Overseas Filipino and their Families, UMA Pilipinas, Arkibong Bayan, International League of People Struggle, Pinoy Weekly, Counter Punch, International Action Center, Monthly Review, People’s March, Taga-Ilog News, Partisa-News, and People Resist News.

These websites publish propaganda and misinformation campaigns to malign the Philippine government, recruit new members and to solicit funds from local and international sources, according to Esperon’s letter to NTC.

However, Esperon did not cite specific grounds connecting those in his list to terrorist groups.

NTC order

In its statement, media outlet Bulatlat condemned the move as a “brazen violation of our right to publish, and of the public’s right to free press and free expression.”

“We raise the alarm that such arbitrary action sets a dangerous precedent for independent journalism in the Philippines.”

Subscribers of the 21-year old alternative media had been unable to access its website using Smart Communications and PLDT in the past five days.

Bulatlat covers the struggles of farmers for land, of indigenous peoples for their ancestral domain and right to self-determination, of urban poor for their right to decent housing, of victims of human rights violations for justice.

It has been a target of cyber attacks since 2020

For its part, Pamalakaya, a website that covers the plight of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, issued a statement saying, “We humbly ask internet service providers not to fall with Esperon’s vicious lies and be accomplices of the state in suppressing the people’s right to information and freedom of expression.”