MANIFESTO ON THE PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION | freexp.con4

MANIFESTO ON THE PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

SPEAK OUT AND ACT NOW

Free speech and expression is universally guaranteed fundamental right without which we can’t fully enjoy our other human rights. It is a principal pillar of a free government as it guarantees people’s participation in public affair. When it is taken away, a free society crumbles. There is no better way to ensure check and balance in government than public scrutiny into the action of the public officials. It is what makes a functioning democracy.

However, free speech and expression is continuously under attack, which meant not only to deprive the public of timely, truthful and reliable information but most alarmingly to silence dissent. The proliferation of fake news to spread rumors, lies, and misinformation which are deliberately being orchestrated by no less than public officials and diehard supporters of the administration is undeniably aggravating social divide and polarization.

The internet which has enabled to empower free speech and expression by providing different platforms to billions of people around the world to be connected, to personally communicate and to share their views and opinions freely, is now a hunting ground for tyrants who cannot tolerate criticisms. Today, the road to repression runs through social media while the fourth estates are co-opted by censorship and state regulations.

In this time of crisis, the guarantee of freedom of expression together with the right to information are critical elements of public response. Yet free speech and expression is continuously being relegated in the margins of hostile legislations in the name of public safety and order. But obviously directed towards wider political suppression – a ploy to mask the government’s incompetence in handling the health crisis.

The recent passage of the new Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 poses legal as well as political challenges to human rights as it provides handy excuse for a clampdown on free speech and to encroach on the freedom of association as well as possible denial of the right to due process.

We all know that the worst is yet to come.
It is time to speak out. Let’s act now.

We should all work together to resist, condemn and oppose the government’s attempt to trample on our freedoms. We should hold each other’s right to express our views and be heard. We should very well do so as our lives depend on it.

As we come together on this 4th Freedom of Expression Conference (FreeXP.Con) held at Bee Hotel, Quezon City on November 30, 2020, we resonate our call to FIGHT BACK to protect freedom of expression both online and offline.

We can do so by:

  1. RECLAIMING the cyberspace as we are also reclaiming the democratic spaces for civic participation from further narrowing through aggressive social media campaigns of various social issues and human rights advocacies;
  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 by challenging its legalities;
  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.

Free speech and expression belongs to all of us. We have once triumphed against a tyrant who wanted to silence our collective voices.
WE can do it again. BUT it is now up for the new generation to rise to occasion. Shape your own future by making a stand today.
Because what we are fighting is every one’s liberty by defending our own.

SIGNED:
HUMAN RIGHTS ONLINE PHILIPPINES