Will IBP’s website be restricted?

Published June 25, 2022, 1:15 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Saturday, June 25, expressed apprehensions its website and those of its members may be ordered restricted as “affiliates” of communist terrorist groups (CTGs).

In its statement, the IBP said: “The NTC’s (National Telecommunications Commission) order silenced nuns, priests, and reporters. Are lawyers next? Will the IBP’s website be shuttered for aiding those at the margins of society if some of them are then tagged as ‘affiliates?’”

On request of the National Security Council (NSC), the NTC has ordered the Philippine Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to the websites that are supposedly affiliated to and are supporting CTGs. The ISPs have enforced the NTC order.

Restricted were the websites of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founded Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF), the Official Publication of the NDF, and the Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) or the website of CPP.

Included were the websites of progressive groups and independent media organizations such as Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, Save Our Schools Network, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Pamalakaya Pilipinas, and AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women.

Other restricted websites were those of 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, Counter Punch, International Action Center, Monthly Review, People’s March, Taga-Ilog News, Partisa-News, and People Resist News.

The IBP also said:

“The NTC has no power to restrict access to news websites and members of the press based on mere allegations. Neither may it extend the scope of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s designation order to ‘affiliates’ at the barest invocation of terrorism.

“To takedown the websites is to muzzle their owners. Such a drastic move can’t be anchored on statement that in court would be treated as Hearsay.

“In any case, the only effect of designation under Section 25 of the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act) is to subject the organization to the AMLC’s (Anti-Money Laundering Council) freeze authority.

“This baseless order endangers not only the liberty of the press, but also the legitimate activities of human rights advocates and other progressive groups.

“The Supreme Court has already affirmed the constitutionality of the ATA’s designation process. The NSC is encouraged to use the fruits of this victory and file the proper cases and requests for designation, instead of resorting to censorial shortcuts.”

Earlier, NSC Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had said the restrictions on websites of CTG affiliates is “a win” for the Philippines in terms of “leftist misinformation, and NPA (New People’s Army) recruitment and propaganda.”