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Sandugo to NTC: Crack down on fake news and red-tagging, not advocates and journalists

By SANDUGO Alliance
June 23, 2022

QUEZON CITY – On June 6, the National Security Council (NSC) through Hermogenes Esperon requested the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to restrict access to 28 websites, citing them as “affiliates and supporters” of “terrorists and terrorist organizations” and purveyors of “misinformation campaigns.” Websites were picked arbitrarily without any due process.

Many of the websites cited in the directive have consistently featured stories of our struggle for land and rights. Some are alternative media outlets like Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, which have received acclaim through the years for the caliber of their journalism. Some are of legal progressive formations like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, the International League of People's Struggles, and various peasant organizations which have stood alongside us in our quest for our right to self-determination. Others include the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and the Save Our Schools network, which have been key to the establishment and defense of Lumad schools; prior to being targeted by the Duterte regime, these schools have reaped initial recognition from the Department of Education itself.

This is a clear restriction of our right to visibility and dissent. Disinformation and red-tagging is currently disseminated widely through state channels and resources, drowning out the legitimate cries of indigenous peoples and Bangsamoro peoples. This new NSC directive further diminishes our already-dwindling democratic space.

We refuse to be silenced. Advocates of national minorities and human rights are not terrorists. This is exactly why we have been vocal in our opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which was railroaded by the Duterte administration during the throes of the pandemic. Through this act, organizations and individuals critical of the status quo are easily tagged as terrorists and therefore stripped away of their freedoms and basic rights. The NTC directive is made possible by this draconian Anti-Terror Act.

Sandugo Alliance demands that the NTC retract the order to arbitrarily restrict these websites. The internet should remain a democratic space. Instead, the NTC should turn its attention to sites and outlets that purvey fake news and disinformation, harass media outlets, and red-tag activists. Many of these are within easy access of the Commission, as they are platforms manned by the government itself.