Bayan condemns continuing state censorship and repression under Marcos Jr administration

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan joined media groups and people’s organizations in condemning the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) as enforcers of state censorship and repression.

NTC directed local ISPs to block the websites of 26 organizations in June 2022 based on an order issued by the National Security Adviser. Bayan is included in this list and its website remains blocked up to this day. The office of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is inside NICA. These agencies are responsible for the baseless and vicious red-tagging and terror-tagging of activist groups and state critics.

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The protest in front of the offices of NTC and NICA highlighted the impact of censorship and red-tagging. Aside from restricting information and free speech, NTC and NICA have been enabling human rights abuses by branding activists and critics as “enemies of the state”.

The protest also disproved the claims made by the government during the visit of UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan that freedom of expression is vibrant.

In a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur, Bayan cited the website blocking as proof of the arbitrary and draconian features of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Our website was instantly made inaccessible without giving us an opportunity to dispute the government’s claim that we promote terrorism. This also sets a dangerous precedent since authorities can easily tag any opposition group or party as a terrorist supporter without providing any evidence to justify online censorship.

Banning websites of groups which espouse a radical political ideology is anathema in a democracy. It deprives the public of adequate knowledge and information which could hamper their understanding of the political situation and gravely affect their decision-making as citizens. It makes groups like Bayan vulnerable to hostile actions from those whose only knowledge about our advocacy came from rabid red-taggers in the bureaucracy.

Bayan also called for the defunding and abolition of NTF-ELCAC and the probe into the role of NICA in masterminding illegal surveillance operations, spreading of disinformation, and intensified attacks against human rights defenders.

Categories: Statements


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