‘Truth telling is not terrorism’: Groups condemn NTC’s blocking of sites ‘affiliated to, supporting terrorists’

Published June 23, 2022, 4:46 PM

by Charie Mae F. Abarca

Various groups in the Philippines publicly condemned the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) order for internet providers to block websites that are allegedly “affiliated, linked, and supporting terrorist organizations.”

(Karapatan / Manila Bulletin)

Among the groups who denounced the order was Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) who stressed that reporting the real state of Filipinos is not terrorism.

“This is exactly why KMU strongly opposes the Anti-Terror Law as it will curtail our fundamental rights and freedoms. Instead of running after progressive groups, the NTC should exert all their efforts to punish groups and individuals who propagate fake news,” said KMU in a press statement on Thursday, June 23.

Included in the list of websites blocked by the NTC were sites of alternative media and progressive groups in the Philippines.

KMU also urged the NTC and National Security Council (NSC) to restore the blocked websites, adding that it is an attack to freedom of speech. The group also called on Filipinos to denounce the order, urging the public to be vigilant against “tyrannical schemes.”

Violation of people’s rights

Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan, in a press conference on Thursday morning, likewise condemned the act, reiterating that the order violates freedom of the press, freedom of expression, due process rights, people’s right to information, as well as the right to political dissent.

“[These orders] are [a] prelude to a full-blown digital martial law under the Marcos-Duterte regime. The threats also indicate the incoming administration’s intolerance of dissent and the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly,” said Karapatan Secretary General Christina Palabay.

The order was signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba. It was, however, requested by NSC Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. who cited sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2022 to support his order of the immediate blocking of websites found to be “affiliated to, and are supporting terrorists, and terrorist organizations.”