Freedom of Expression Conference Declaration

Freedom of Expression Conference Declaration

We, human rights defenders and civil society organizations (CSOs) working for the defense and protection of human rights, gathered in Quezon City, Philippines, during the Freedom of Expression Conference, FreeXP.con organized by the Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH) on 1-2 December 2017;

Reaffirming, that the right to freedom of expression is the most fundamental freedom and right in a democratic society, as enshrined in Article III, Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Philippines and international standards as follows:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • ILO Convention N° 135, Workers’ Representatives Convention
  • General Comment 10 [19] (Article 19) of the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1 of 19 May 1989)
  • General Comment 11 [19] (Article 20) of the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1 of 19 May 1989)
  • The public’s right to know: Principles on Freedom of Information Legislation. Annex II Report E/CN.4/2000/63

Recalling, the General Comment No. 34 of Human Rights Committee, which recognizes, “the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms.” Affirming that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online,”;

Recognizing, restrictions on freedom of expression may also be imposed, as long as they are consistent with the requirements noted in paragraph 1, “to prohibit advocacy of hatred on protected grounds that constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination or hostility” (in reference to Article 20 of the ICCPR;

Recognizing, threats to freedom of expression are more pronounced than ever such as the growing prevalence of disinformation (sometimes referred to as “false” or “fake news”) and propaganda in social media, fueled by both State and non-State actors;

Considering, alarming instances in which public authorities denigrate, intimidate and threaten the media, from outright government official statements that the media is “the opposition” or is “lying” and has a hidden political agenda, increasing the risks on our lives, with threats and violence against human rights defenders and critical public are heightened; and threat of outright misleading the public by blurring the lines between disinformation and media products containing independently verifiable facts;

Deploring, attempts by the government to suppress dissent through such measures as repressive rules regarding the restrictive laws on exercising right to freedom of expression e.g. cyber libel provisions under the Republic Act No. 10175, or the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012” and Senate Bill No. 1492 or the “Anti-Fake News Act of 2017”;

Reiterating, the government has the obligation to foster an enabling environment for freedom of expression by taking measures to promote media and digital literacy, including but not limited to, engaging with civil society organizations and other stakeholders to address the negative effects of disinformation and propaganda;

Acknowledging, the role played by the Internet and other digital technologies in supporting individuals’ ability to access and disseminate information and ideas, which both enables responses to disinformation and propaganda, while also facilitating their circulation; and

Welcoming, the importance of stakeholders cooperation including intermediaries, media outlets, civil society, that should be supported in developing participatory and transparent initiatives for creating a better understanding of the impact of disinformation and propaganda on democracy, freedom of expression, journalism and civic space, as well as appropriate responses to these phenomena;

Adopt, this Declaration of the Freedom of Expression Conference in Quezon City, Philippines, in the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, on 10 December 2017.


Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)
Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition Southeast-Asia (AFEC-SEA)
Amnesty International- Philippines
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN)
Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (KAISA KA)
Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA)
Cecilia Lero
Balay Rehabilitation Center Inc.
Medical Action Group (MAG)
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)
Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)