The order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that blocked the websites of several groups, including some news outfits, and the order to revoke the operating license of Rappler “result in chilling effects to deter free speech and liberty of association under a democracy,” the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.
“We caution against censorship or any move similar to it, which harms press freedom and results in a chilling effect that attempts to deter free speech and liberty of association under a democracy,” the CHR said through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia.
“The CHR, as the country’s independent national human rights institution, continues to stress the importance of the people’s right to information and to free speech, expression, and association. As long as an individual’s exercise of right is not in violation of the law or the rights of others, any form of curtailment is undue and unjust,” De Guia, a lawyer, stressed.
She also pointed out that the CHR firmly believes that “democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas, including dissent and opposing opinions, that allows everyone to participate in shaping laws and policies for the general welfare of the people.”
The CHR reacted on the order of the NTC that blocked websites which are reportedly affiliated to and are supporting terrorists and terrorist organizations, and the decision of the Securities and Exchange Comission (SEC) that revoked the operating license of news outfit Rappler.
It reiterated its call on the government to respect and uphold human rights. “In silencing criticism and dissent, the government is only detracting from every Filipino’s ‘shared goal of nation-building,’” De Guia said.
The organizations and individuals whose websites have been blocked, and Rappler still have legal recourse before the courts.