Freedom of Expression Conference 5 (FreeXP.con)




The right to freedom of speech and expression – the right to speak out, to debate, to criticize, to disseminate information on matters of public importance – is one of the most basic of human rights. It is guaranteed under Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Yet the right to speak out, to inform, to report, and to engage in open debate is now being curtailed. This right including other fundamental human rights is under attack by the government and private citizens and groups, and on many fronts including the digital sphere.

Today, the challenges in continuously exercising and defending the right to free speech and expression are unsurmountable under the current political dispensation. There is certainly a systematic and widespread machination to undermine the right to free speech and expression that is being carried by the government and its political allies with the use of punitive laws to control, discredit, punish and silence its critics. Misleading information and hate-driven commentary have been spreading via social media platforms for quite a long time and these are now manipulating public opinion, warping meaningful discourses, and polluting the public moral fabric.


It is for this reason that Human Rights Online Philippines, a network of individual human rights advocates working on different human rights advocacies online sees the urgency and importance to once again bring together social media influencers, online activists, bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders in an event that will tackle and address the pressing issues confronting the protection of Freedom of Expression in the Philippines.

This year, the HRonlinePh will again hold the Freedom of Expression Conference or the “FreeXP.Con5” under the theme, “MAGPAHAYAG, MAKISANGKOT AT MAGING BAYANI PARA SA KARAPATANG PANTAO! (SPEAK OUT, GET INVOLVED, BE A HERO FOR HUMAN RIGHTS!), on November 29 to 30, 2021.

The Conference aims to meet the following objectives:
(a) To gather consensus on the state of free speech and expression in the country by presenting the initial result of the island-wide consultations and monitoring conducted by Human Rights Online Philippines under the DRL FORUM ASIA and PAHRA Project
(b) To learn lessons from free speech heroes in developing creative forms of resistance; and
(c) To identify and unite on ways forward for better cooperation and collaboration in defending free expression.

The Freedom of Expression Conference started in 2016 under a resonating call to inform, inspire and mobilize the netizens to assert and defend their basic human rights especially their freedom of expression. The event was supported by the British Embassy in Manila for consecutive years.

FreeXp.Con5 just like the previous Conferences will showcase innovation and creative presentation by breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints but rather thru PEP Talk and TV Talk Show format. The conference will be divided into three parts: PART 1: Free Expression in the time of Covid 19 pandemic, PART 2: Defending the Right to Free Expression by Learning Lessons for Free Speech Heroes, and PART 3: Expression of Conference’s Commitment and Unity, wherein open discussions in-between segment are encouraged.


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