[On the blocking of websites] Uphold and defend the people’s right to know and right to information — farmers

We are adding our strong voice to the broad condemnation of the action of the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that ordered telcos and internet service providers to block at 28 websites that the NSC alleged are “affiliated to and are supporting the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

We demand a retraction of the NSC order and the unblocking of the affected websites.

The memo dated June 8, 2022, ordered the blocking of websites that included the official websites of peasant organizations AMIHAN, PAMALAKAYA, and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura along with alternative media websites such as  Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, and Arkibong Bayan, and organization websites of Save Our Schools Network, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and International League of Peoples Struggle, and websites of the Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Why block websites that present critical views and analyses of the outgoing and incoming administration? The NTC and NSC’s action stifles freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and undermines the people’s right to know. Amid the worsening agriculture and food crisis, it is imperative to know the situation and views of farmers’ organizations. AMIHAN has been at the forefront of exposing the anti-farmer nature of rice liberalization. PAMALAKAYA exposes the condition of fisherfolks amid the government’s weak stand on the West Philippine Sea while UMA leads the advancement of farmworkers’ land and democratic rights.

This situation is like a throwback to 1972 when Marcos Sr closed down private media and broadcasting networks and maintained only government mouthpieces. Such dirty tactics of website blocking have no legal basis even in the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL).

We challenge legislators and members of the judiciary who stood for the ATL, believing in the sufficiency of its “safeguards” against abuse, to step in and take action against the overboard actions of the NSC and NTC. We urge the public to remain vigilant in upholding and defending the people’s right to know and right to information. ###

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