submit complaints to UN experts before PH human rights review
November 11, 2022
– Media and academic groups submitted complaints to the office of
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights
Defenders Mary Lawlor several days before the United Nations Human
Rights Council conducts its universal periodic review on the human
rights situation in the Philippines.
Pinoy Media Center (PMC),
publisher of Pinoy Weekly, reported that then National Security
Adviser Hermogenes Esperon has ordered the blocking of their website
and 27 other organizations, which is still inaccessible to the
In its letter to Lawlor,
the independent media outfit also stated that its website have also
been subject to continuous cyber-attacks since 2018. The website
www.pinoyweekly.org had also been hacked between November 17 and 18,
2021, the PMC said.
“Enforcing restrictions to
access our website does not only violate our rights to freedom of
the press, speech and free expression, which are guaranteed under
the Philippine Constitution,” PMC, though its executive director
Angela Colmenares, said.
PMC added that copies of
Pinoy Weekly’s print editions have been confiscated and burned by
members of the Philippine Army and the Bulacan Philippine National
Police three times between September 5, 2019 and July 25, 2020 in
Pandi, San Jose del Monte City and Norzagaray.
country’s longest running alternative media outfit, also complained
of its website’s blocking by the National Telecommunications
Commission last June 8 as well as incessant cyber-attacks using the
Department of Science and Technology infrastructure assigned to the
“Perpetrated by the state,
the attacks are tantamount to content-based prior restraint and
censorship,” Bulatlat managing editor Ronalyn Olea said.
The submissions were made
by the Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch, a network
of church and human rights organizations, that is currently in this
city to participate in the United Nations Human Rights Council
review on the human rights situation in the Philippines on November
Justice secretary Jesus
Crispin Remulla is again expected to represent a high-level mission
to represent the Philippine government.
Philippine UPR Watch also
submitted to the UN experts a report on academic freedom
developments in the Philippines by the Scholars at Risk Network.
The report said attacks
and pressures on academic freedom escalated during the transition
between the Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. governments.
“These have included the
threat of red-tagging, anti-terrorism legislated, and censorship
that undermine academic freedom and freedom of expression,”
according to the report.
As both Pinoy Media Center
and Bulatlat, the academics said scholars and academic institutions
have been subjected to red-tagging, it adds.
The report also cited the
killing of two volunteer teachers of indigenous peoples’ schools in
February 2022 as well as former anti-insurgency task force
spokesperson Lorraine Badoy’s red-tagging of former Ateneo School of
Law Dean Antonio La Vina.
Threats to academic
freedom in the Philippines include the censorship of books in
libraries of state universities by the Commission on Higher
Education and the banning of the publication of books by the
Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, an attached agency of the Office of the
Philippine UPR Watch said
that aside from Monday’s review of the Philippines, the submissions
are in anticipation of the official visit of UN Special Rapporteur
on freedom of expression and opinion Irene Khan to the Philippines