Groups slam NTC’s order to block websites: 'Illegal, arbitrary'

·Contributor
·3 min read
Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Advisor and Director General of the National Security Council (NSC), makes a gesture during a media briefing to the Foreign Correspondents Association in the Philippines in Manila on August 14, 2008. (Photo by ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images) NTC
Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Advisor and Director General of the National Security Council (NSC), makes a gesture during a media briefing to the Foreign Correspondents Association in the Philippines in Manila on August 14, 2008. The NSC ordered the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) block progressives websites. (Photo by ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images)

Several activist groups and alternative media outfits slammed the issuance of a memorandum by the National Telecommunication Commission’s (NTC) on June 8 directing internet service providers to block the website of several organizations allegedly “affiliated to and are supporting terrorists and terrorist organizations.”

The memorandum’s justification was an attachment of a letter of the National Security Council (NSC), citing Anti-Terrorism Council’s (ATC) approved resolutions declaring several organizations as “pages belonging to the Communist Terrorist Groups.”

“They have established pervasive online presence through their websites that they continually use to publish propaganda and misinformation campaigns in order to malign the Philippine government, recruit new members, and to solicit funds from local and international sources,” the NSC’s letter to the NTC reads, and then requesting the said agency to block access to the websites of the organizations.

The NSC letter, signed by National Security Advisor and Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) Vice Chairperson Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The organizations tagged are as follows:

  • National Democratic Front of the Philippines

  • Jose Maria Sison blog

  • The Official Publication of the NDF

  • Philippine Revolution Web Central

  • Bulatlat

  • Hiyaw

  • PRWC Newsroom

  • Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions

  • Compatriots - Revolutionary Organization of Overseas Filipino and their Families

  • Save Our Schools Network

  • UMA Pilipinas

  • Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

  • Pamalakaya Pilipinas

  • AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women

  • BAYAN

  • Arkibong Bayan

  • International League of People Struggle

  • Pinoy Weekly

  • Counter Punch

  • International Action Center

  • Monthly Review

  • People’s March

  • Taga-Ilog News

  • Partisa-News

  • People Resist News

Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) calls the move “an attack on free speech,” and is illegal and arbitrary. “No specific offense or evidence was ever cited to justify the blocking of Bulatlat et al except for the Anti-Terrorism Council resolutions that do not pertain to Bulatlat et al. This again highlights the dangers of the anti-Terror Law,” the group said in a statement.

Alternative media outfit Bulatlat said that the move was arbitrary and sets a dangerous precedent for independent media in the country.

“For the past 21 years, Bulatlat has been committed to shedding light on issues that affect the marginalized and the oppressed … These stories are often underreported or ignored by the dominant media mainly due to their owners’ economic and political interests,” their statement read.

“We will continue our work while we also consider all legal remedies available to question, and stop yet another state-sponsored repression,” Bulatlat said further.

Pinoy Media Center, a non-profit media organization and the publisher of alternative media outlet such as Pinoy Weekly, called the NTC and NSC’s action “an outright violation of our freedom of the press and of expression and an affront to the people’s right to information, especially with the proliferation of disinformation, misinformation and malinformation on social media.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines likewise condemns the “arbitrary inclusion” of Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, and several other alternative news sites as affiliated to and supporting “CTGs,” and demands to reconsider the inclusion of these organizations to their list.

Meanwhile, BAYAN is calling on everyone, most especially free speech advocates and opponents of the terror law to push back against the attack. They are also urging the incoming National Security Adviser “to revoke these illegal orders and to cease attacks on free speech and freedom of association.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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