[Statement] Human rights group vows to protect freedom of expression (FOE) -HRonlinePH

PRESS STATEMENT
Nov 30, 2020

#HumanRights group vows to protect #freedomofexpression (FOE)

The Human Rights Online Philippines, a network of individual advocates and human rights organizations called on every freedom loving netizen to speak out and act to defend free speech and expression in the country.

In a Conference Manifesto issued and presented during the 4th Freedom of the Expression Conference held at B Hotel, Quezon City on Nov 30 2020, they recognized the importance of free speech and expression especially in time of crisis They considered it a principal pillar of a free government that guarantees people’s participation in public affair.

They also acknowledged that the internet has enabled to empower free speech and expression by providing different platforms to billions of people especially the young generation.

However, they are saddened by the fact the free speech and ecpresssion is continuously under attack. Even the internet has become the battle ground for repression that runs through social media while the fourth estates have fallen to censorship and state regulations.

They lambasted the government’s double standard in imposing limitation to free speech and expression that threatens free speech and expression. While it pleads ignorance on the proliferation of fake news to spread rumors, lies, and misinformation orchestrated by no less than some government officials and diehard supporters of the administration, it is on its feet to run after those who were criticizing them.

They also denounced the Philippine government’s attempt to clampdowm on free speech and expression by relegating it in the margins of hostile legislations in the name of public safety and order, but obviously directed towards wider political suppression to cover up the government’s incompetence in handling the health crisis.

They cited the passage of the new Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as handy excuse for the government to clampdown on free speech and to encroach on the freedom of association as well as the possible denial of the right to due process.

They are encouraging everyone to Speak Out and Act as they put forward the following calls to action:

  1. RECLAIMING the cyberspace as we are also reclaiming the democratic spaces for civic participation from further narrowing;
  2. DEFENDING the freedom of expression from any legal constraints and any forms of political witch hunting including charging of cyber-libel, red-tagging and online surveillance;
  3. SERVING not only as fact checkers but truth-tellers as we combat disinformation, human rights distortion and historical revisionism;
  4. DEMANDING the Philippine Government for the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill filed at the Philippine Congress to give us due recognition and protection; and
  5. TRANSLATING our voices to collective action.

They believed that through collective action they can triumph against any tyrants as the country did before.

They also recognized the role of the youth and challenged them to shape their own future by making a stand today.

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