Lacson: NTC order to block websites legal if financing terrorist activities is involved

Outgoing Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Thursday said the order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to block access to over 20 websites has a legal basis under the anti-terror law if these platforms are involved in financing the activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New Peoples Army (NPA).

Lacson, who heads the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, is one of the principal authors of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or Republic Act No. 11479.

“If the blocked websites had to do with financing the activities of the CPP-NPA—which the Anti-Terrorism Council had already designated as a terrorist organization—(then) there is legal basis under the law for such action undertaken by the NTC,” Lacson said.

The aggrieved parties, however, may challenge the NTC order before the court.

“That being said, the action may be challenged before the court because it is the basic right of an ‘aggrieved’ party to do so as it has something to do with the interpretation of the law,” the senator stressed.

The NTC earlier ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to over 20 websites, including those of independent media that it “found to be affiliated to and are supporting terrorist and terrorist organizations.”

The order was based upon the request of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon who sits as director-general of the National Security Council (NSC).

But the NTC order earned condemnation from various human rights groups, including the Human Rights Watch (HRW) which is based in New York.