Tag Archives: FMA

[Statement] FMA denounces guilty verdict on Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr.

FMA denounces guilty verdict on Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr.

Today, 15 June 2020, the Manila Regional Trial Court handed down a guilty verdict on the cyber libel case against online media organization Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa and former reporter Reynaldo Santos, Jr. The verdict is a result of a case that is widely regarded to be the ultimate test of the Philippines’ controversial cybercrime law and is proof of its potential to be be used for impunity, censorship, and to chill press freedom, even now that free speech, expression, and freedom of the press are all the more fundamental in light of a global pandemic. The guilty verdict clearly confirms that all laws – not just the cybercrime law – may be weaponized to silence dissent and prosecute the administration’s loudest critics.

The Foundation for Media Alternatives joins Rappler and the rest of the media community in denouncing this decision and reiterates its stance that press freedom and free speech are fundamental to civil liberty. Press freedom has repeatedly been affirmed by the Supreme Court in a long line of cases, and has referred to it as a “preferred right that stands on a higher level than substantive freedom or other liabilities.” As it is, the guilty verdict already violates this basic Constitutional principle and is found wanting on this preference for such fundamental freedom.

The case is just one among many others filed against Maria Ressa and Rappler within the last two years. It forms part of a well-documented pattern of attacks by this administration and its allies against all journalists and media workers, consisting of various threats, harassment, closure orders, and extrajudicial killings. With the imminent passage of the Anti-Terror Bill, the list of speech “crimes” that can be used against critics of the administration grows even further: adding “inciting to terrorism” to readily-abused crimes such as “inciting to sedition” and evidently, online libel.

Yet even without the Anti-Terror Bill, the administration has enjoyed a wide latitude of discretion to impose its own brand of “terror,” no less than through its imperative to bypass due process and kill “suspected” criminals, such as Kian Delos Santos or Winston Ragos. It has normalized a culture of military and police impunity, and, through Rappler’s case and many others, asserted the dominance of the rule of men – or one man – over the rule of law.

This dangerous precedent (among others already set by the administration) puts not just media practitioners in danger of being charged with libel, but practically anyone who publishes anything online. The Court itself highlighted this in its decision by acknowledging that mere netizens “can be held accountable for any defamatory posts or comments in the internet.”

As FMA and many media groups have repeatedly emphasized, the cyber libel provision is an unnecessary and draconian measure that must be deleted from the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, even as libel itself should be decriminalized in the first place. Be that as it may, the Supreme Court itself has outlined a rule of preference for fines instead of imprisonment – as imposed on Ressa and Santos – a rule of preference not at all considered in the latter’s conviction.

Our previous calls highlighting the potential for abuse of these laws are not unfounded, as proven by the deplorable outcome of this case.

We, therefore, call on:

  • Civil society to come together and stand with media groups in defending press freedom;
  • The Philippine Congress to heed calls for the review and amendment of the cybercrime law and for the decriminalization of libel;
  • The government to uphold and protect the constitutional right of every Filipino to free speech; and
  • The Filipino people to remain steadfast in upholding our Constitutional rights and to continue to #HoldTheLine.

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[Video] Online Gender-based Violence in the Philippines -FMA

To report cases of online gender-based violence in the Philippines, go to ph.tbtt.apc.org or visit the page of Take Back the Tech Philippines (https://www.facebook.com/takebackthet…).

Visit the following FMA sites to know more about gender and ICT in the Philippines:

FMA Website: https://www.fma.ph
FMA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fmaph
Women’s Rights Online Philippines: https://www.facebook.com/WomensRights…

Video created using Canva.

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[Statement] Rights group expresses concern over reported anomalous DICT disbursements -FMA

The Foundation for Media Alternatives expresses grave concerns over the alleged misuse of confidential funds by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for the purpose of conducting surveillance activities.

On Monday, February 3, former DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio, Jr. confirmed his resignation from the agency, citing the lack of transparency in the disbursement of Php 300 million in confidential funds as one reason for his departure. His revelation is corroborated by official documents from the Commission on Audit which have flagged irregularities in the release of cash advances described as “confidential expenses in connection with cybersecurity activities.”

As a civil society organization committed to the protection of human rights in the Philippines, we find these reports deeply unsettling, especially since unlawful and unfettered government surveillance practices are an anathema to fundamental civil liberties and often result in graver human rights violations. To protect citizens against such threats, the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance dictate that any measure of surveillance from the State should observe the highest level of transparency and legal oversight possible. The irregularities committed by the DICT, if proven to be true, directly contravene this standard.

These allegations of fund misuse for the purpose of surveillance are particularly troubling given the current political landscape, which is already populated with accounts and proposals of unregulated state spying. On top of the national ID system, there are existing policy proposals to enhance government surveillance capabilities (e.g., Foreign Electronic Surveillance Act, amendments to both the Human Security Act and the anti-wiretapping law, and the anti-subversion law), and the increasing militarization of government agencies.

Read more @www.fma.ph

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[Event] National ICT Month 2019 (June 11, 2019 | QMX Lecture Hall) Limited Slots only -FMA

In celebration of the National ICT Month 2019 with the theme “See ICT Differently”, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) are pleased to invite interested organizations and individuals to the forum entitled “UNWANTED GAZE: DEALING WITH PHOTOS AND VIDEOS SHARED ONLINE WITHOUT CONSENT”.

Topics for discussion will include gender and online privacy issues. The event will be held on June 11, 2019, 1PM to 4PM at Lecture Hall – QCX, Quezon City Circle.

To confirm your attendance, you may sign-up online through https://www.eventbrite.com/e/unwanted-gaze-dealing-with-pho… on or before 09 June 2019. Registration is required as seats are limited and meals will be served.

https://www.facebook.com/events/350290089006648/

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[Event] FMA Digital Rights Camp 2019

FMA is currently undertaking a series of capacity-building and awareness-raising activities, including the digital rights camp, to advance human rights in the Philippine digital environment.

The Digital Rights Camp aims to enhance local networking, popularise digital rights issues, and expand digital rights campaign and movements by connecting human rights defenders and advocates to empower one another with strategies, resources, and tools, and to set an action plan for moving forward based on knowledge exchange, cooperation, and community building.

This camp will be held from 29-31 of May 2019 (venue to be announced later) and to be led by FMA and invited digital rights trainers. FMA will also be providing partial and full travel/accommodation scholarships to selected participants.

The camp will also require full commitment for 3 days, so all selected participants are expected to dedicate their time during the entire duration of the camp.

Further details on the program will only be shared with the selected participants. If you wish to apply, please email us at digitalrightsph@protonmail.ch to receive a copy of application form. The deadline of submission is on or before 30 April 2019 (Tuesday, 11:59PM). Selected participants will be notified on 15 May 2019.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2251884961500554/

Support #KarapatDapat na Agenda campaign! Click the poster to know more.

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[Event] Metro Manila leg Internet Governance Symposium -FMA

Metro Manila leg Internet Governance Symposium

In October 2017, FMA, DICT and ISOC-PH partnered to conduct the first Philippine Internet Governance Colloquium, which provided a platform for local ICT and human development stakeholders to share best practices on Internet Governance. The said colloquium engaged government, civil society organizations and private sectors in discussions on pertinent public policies, technical, human rights and other emerging issues.

As a follow-up to the Philippine Internet Governance Colloquium in October 2017, FMA, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government, and in collaboration with DICT and ISOC-PH, will hold a series of Internet Governance Symposiums across the country that will hopefully lead to the first-ever Philippine Internet Governance Forum.

The Internet Governance Symposium aims to (1) promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Internet Governance by local communities through a multistakeholder approach; (2) bring people together from different sectors as equals, in facilitating the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, civil society, government and technical communities at the local level; (3) discuss emerging issues and concerns, and public policy issues relating to the Internet and bring those issues and concerns to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2073942782726821/

 

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[Statement] The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) denounces the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) denounces the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. As advocates of human rights and communication rights, FMA stands by press freedom and free speech as fundamental to civil liberty, especially at a time when the very foundations of democracy are under threat.

The arrest of Ressa today, February 13, 2019, minutes before the court closes for processing bail payments, is clearly an underhanded move to harass critical media and tear down the pillars of truth. The case against Ressa rests upon a flawed interpretation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act as an ex post facto law, which is prohibited by the Philippine Constitution. Retroactive application of section 4(C)(4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act sets a dangerous precedent, especially for a crime as contentious as cyber libel.

This is not the first time that the Duterte government bared its teeth against media organizations that dare report the truth. In 2018, the administration orchestrated a series of regulatory threats to intimidate media organizations such as ABS-CBN and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. It is clear that Ressa’s arrest is not an isolated case, but rather part of a deliberate assault on our liberties, as well as an attack on strong women.

Without a free press, without a public sphere that encourages difference and dissent, individual forces increase their capacity to manipulate and monopolize public opinion. This is how authoritarian regimes are born. We cannot let any attempt to curtail press freedom succeed.

#HoldTheLine #StandWithRappler #DefendPressFreedom

THINA LOPEZ
Program Officer
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Email Address: tlopez@fma.ph

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[Event] Call for registration: Internet Governance Symposium (Luzon leg) -FMA

CALL FOR REGISTRATION
INTERNET GOVERNANCE SYMPOSIUM (LUZON Leg)
Malolos, Bulacan | December 11, 2018

Registration is FREE.
https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSfmh3uQ0XlQe9MR-9…/viewform

************************
In October 2017, FMA, DICT and ISOC-PH partnered to conduct the first Philippine Internet Governance Colloquium, which provided a platform for local ICT and human development stakeholders to share best practices on Internet Governance. The said colloquium engaged government, civil society organizations and private sectors in discussions on pertinent public policies, technical, human rights and other emerging issues.

As a follow-up to the Philippine Internet Governance Colloquium in October 2017, FMA, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government, and in collaboration with DICT and ISOC-PH, will hold a series of Internet Governance Symposiums across the country that will hopefully lead to the first ever Philippine Internet Governance Forum.

The Internet Governance Symposium aims to (1) promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Internet Governance by local communities through a multistakeholder approach; (2) bring people together from different sectors as equals, in facilitating the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, civil society, government and technical communities at the local level; (3) discuss emerging issues and concerns, and public policy issues relating to the Internet and bring those issues and concerns to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations.

For inquiries, please call +63 2 435 6684 look for Ms. Blythe Abundo.

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[Statement] Foundation for Media Alternatives Revisits Comelec Breach of 2016

Foundation for Media Alternatives Revisits Comelec Breach of 2016

With two years already having elapsed since the Philippines’ biggest government data breach grabbed hold of global headlines, non-government organization, Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA),has released a briefing paper providing a summarized account of the events surrounding the infamous hacking incident.The document proposes some major takeaways and action points, both on the part of government and the private sector.

When news of the so-called “Comeleak” first broke out, the ensuing public panic was exacerbated by wildly conflicting accounts from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the hacker groups claiming responsibility for the incident (i.e., Anonymous Philippines and LulzSec Pilipinas), and law enforcement authorities. It would take a months-long investigation carried out by the then newly-minted National Privacy Commission (NPC) before some degree of clarity was achieved, through the agency’s December 2016 Decision, and the brief Preliminary Report it issued a few months prior.

If one recalls, the NPC found the Comelec and its then-Chairman, Andres Bautista, both liable for violating a number of provisions of the country’s Data Privacy Act (DPA). It went so far as to recommend to the Department of Justice the filing of criminal charges against Bautista, whilemaking no other findings of liability on the part of the other respondents initially named in the case.

With the case now pending before the appellate court, the world has since bore witness to a number of other election- or voter-related data crises. Mexico and the U.S., for instance, suffered even bigger information leaks just weeks after the incident. Then just these past month, this Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy has highlighted anew the extent by which misuse of data—even as innocuous as that shared via online quizzes—can threaten the very foundations of a democratic society.

In its paper, FMA looks back at that historic moment before suggesting to the various stakeholders some steps it deems necessary to prevent similar privacy breaches in the future, namely:

  • All Filipinos need to take data privacy seriously.
    The NPC must be competent (from the Commission proper down to its operations staff), well-resourced, and independent.
    Additional data protection policies must be developed to help government agencies and the private sector comply with the DPA.
    State capacity in other areas (e.g., cybersecurity, cybercrime investigations, etc.) should also improve.
    Extreme caution should be observed when dealing with data-intensive systems.
    Civil society must continue advocating for privacy and data protection measures in government and the private sector.

These measures become even more relevant today as the Philippines prepares for another set of elections.

Contact Person: Jess Pacis at info@fma.ph or 435-6684
About FMA: The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) is a non-profit NGO in the Philippines whose mission is to assist citizens and communities – especially civil society organizations (CSOs) and other development stakeholders – in their strategic and appropriate use of the various information and communications media for democratization and popular empowerment.

Foundation for Media Alternatives
Tel.No.: +63 2 435-6684 / +63 2 903 5930
Website: fma.ph
Facebook: @FMA.PH
Twitter: @FMA_PH

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[Statement] Internet Shutdowns: A Myth of Security and Public Safety -FMA

Internet Shutdowns: A Myth of Security and Public Safety
Foundation for Media Alternatives
25 January 2018

The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) expresses grave concern over the decision of Philippine authorities to shut down cell sites during huge festivities. The organization calls for transparency regarding the guidelines used by authorities before resorting to signal jamming. As advocates of human rights and communication rights, FMA believes that human rights and fundamental freedoms offline should also equally apply online. Internet shutdowns, which may come in various forms such as signal jamming, restrict people’s right to communicate.

The National Telecommunications Commission has approved the Philippine National Police’s request to shut down mobile services in time for the Dinagyang festival this coming weekend, January 27 to 28, 2018. This means that mobile features such as phone calls, short message service, and access to mobile data will not be possible in select areas. Philippine mobile operators are not new to such request. In January 2018 alone, network shutdowns were carried out at the Feast of the Black Nazarene, and at the Sinulog and Ati-atihan festivals held in Cebu and Aklan, respectively.

The first known mobile network shutdown in the Philippines was during the Papal visit in 2015. Since then, signal jamming has been frequently used as a go-to security mechanism for large events, with public safety as their primary justification. Other known cases include festivals such as Sinulog 2017, Dinagyang 2017, Hermosa 2016, MassKara 2017, Feast of the Black Nazarene 2017, and other events such as the swimsuit portion of Miss Universe 2017, and Palarong Pambansa 2017. It appears that shutting down communication networks is becoming the norm.

FMA notes the lack of evidence proving that mobile network shutdown contributes to security. The fact that bigger events such as ASEAN was conducted safely even without shutting down cell sites show that the police and authorities are capable enough to maintain security without resorting to internet or mobile network shutdown. Stripping the general public of their means to communicate restricts them from contacting emergency services, authorities, and each other; paralyzes their businesses and jobs; and further places them at risk. Sacrificing access to basic services, as well as the fundamental right to communicate, in the name of purely hypothetical benefits fails the test of necessity and proportionality.

As such, FMA calls for a clearer policy or set of guidelines for implementing these mobile network shutdowns. Authorities must be transparent in their protocol on who can ask for, when to ask for, how long, and how wide the implementation of the mobile network shutdown will be. Shutting down cell sites should only be the last resort and not the default security measure. However, when the need to resort to signal jamming arises, the public always needs to be informed, as they suffer the most from these shutdowns. Authorities must also ensure that emergency services can be accessed despite communication restrictions.

Without any transparent basis in shutting down cell sites, authorities can abuse their capability to strip the general public of their right to communicate. The masses are convinced to compromise their right to expression for their security when there is no clear need for a tradeoff. In times when authorities can easily turn off our right and access to communication, FMA urges them to #KeepItOn.

For questions, please contact Atty. Jamael Jacob and Liza Garcia at (02) 435-6684 or info@fma.ph.

About FMA: The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) is a non-profit NGO in the Philippines whose mission is to assist citizens and communities – especially civil society organizations (CSOs) and other development stakeholders – in their strategic and appropriate use of the various information and communications media for democratization and popular empowerment.

Follow FMA @
Website: http://www.FMA.ph
Facebook: @FMA.PH
Email:info@fma.ph

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[Statement] FMA calls on the public to stand its ground against the creeping crackdown of the free press masked as legitimate regulation of mass media ownership

Foundation for Media Alternatives’ statement on press freedom and free speech

The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) condemns all attempts to suppress press freedom in the Philippines. As advocates of human rights and communication rights, FMA believes that freedom of the press and of expression are fundamental to civil liberty and must be upheld especially at a time when the very foundations of democracy are under threat.

On January 15, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the registration of Rappler, an online media organization in the Philippines. The next day, a subcommittee at the House of Representatives proposed to amend Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution to specify “responsible exercise” as a qualifier for constitutionally protected speech. These two incidents come at the tail end of a series of attacks against Philippine media. In numerous occasions, President Rodrigo Duterte himself has directly threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. In one instance, Duterte offered to arrive at a compromise provided that ABS-CBN promotes federalism. Even the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which has been a staunch critic of Duterte’s war on drugs, was not spared and the renewal of its broadcast franchise was left to languish in Congress after it expired. This, while the administration builds a close circle of bloggers and opinion makers, a select few favored, accredited and resourced by government agents.

Thus, the defense that the Rappler lockdown is an isolated case simply cannot stand. The government has made its message loud and clear: support our agenda or lose your right to operate.

It is time we reclaim our voices and speak back.

Mass media is often referred to as the Fourth Estate, watchdogs against tyranny and a pillar of democracy. It is a major piece in the elaborate system of checks and balances established to prevent abuse of power. Without a free press, without a public sphere that encourages difference and dissent, individual forces increase their capacity to manipulate and monopolize public opinion. Such is exactly how authoritarian regimes are born. This is why we cannot let any attempt to curtail press freedom—however small or “isolated” they may be—simply come to pass.

FMA has always been resolute in its commitment to uphold the freedom of the press, and we will continue to do so. Under international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Republic of the Philippines is bound to protect the freedom of expression and of the press. But when the State itself emerges as a threat to these freedoms, it is up to civil society and the public to defend them.

We, at FMA, therefore call on the Filipino public to continue to stand its ground against the creeping crackdown of the free press masked as legitimate regulation of mass media ownership. This constitutes indirect media censorship masked as regulatory oversight, with a sinister objective of silencing dissent and free expression.

#StandWithRappler #DefendPressFreedom

For questions, please contact Jess Pacis at (02) 435-6684 or info@fma.ph.

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[Campaign] Take Back the Tech! Facebook Frame – FMA

Take Back the Tech! Facebook Frame
Facebook @FMA.ph
Website: fma.ph

From November 25, the Philippines celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 12, Anti-Human Trafficking Day, the 18 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign is a time to heighten our action to end violence against women and girls across the world.

This year, thru Take Back the Tech! Campaign!  we will mark this meaningful event under the overarching theme : “REVISIT TO RESIST: HISTORIES OF THE “MOVEMENT TO END GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE” – reflecting that memory is resistance.

The Foundation for Media Alternatives launch the Take Back the Tech! Facebook Frame to reclaim the Facebook platform as a safe space for women, young girls and other vulnerable sectors, and to end gender-based violence. We will also feature the advocacy work of women’s movement in the country to digitize and preserve our memories and examine them for lessons we can use now and in the future.

In this regard, we would like encourage everyone to support our online campaign by using our Facebook Frame to your Facebook Account within the period of 18-day campaign. Please follow our Facebook Page for more updates.

The Foundation for Media Alternatives

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[Statement] Dutertismo Should Address-Not Contribute to-the Climate of Impunity -FMA

Dutertismo Should Address-Not Contribute to-the Climate of Impunity
Preventing Rhetoric from Becoming Reality in Respecting Rights

FMAThough it is still two weeks before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is formally proclaimed as the country’s next Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, his electoral victory has been apparent early on, just a few days after the close of the May 9th polls.

His victory is unprecedented in many ways, and there will be another time to asses his landslide victory for its substance as well as symbolic value. But for now, it may be time to investigate his recent rhetoric and how it relates to how this hints of an emergent reality where human rights may be under threat.

It could be argued that any words and actions emanating from Mr. Duterte as presumptive President are not yet technically “official” statements. However given the nature of his eventual office, and the gravity of the themes being addressed, his words even now are – and should be – received as signals of what is to become. Using an IT-based metaphor, his past statements hint at a sort of “source code” for the “operating system” of his incoming Administration. Supporters of the President-elect assume just as much: “This is who Duterte is, and what you see is what you get.”

Many citizens of goodwill do assume that an initial public familiarization period with any new leader-especially one as unorthodox as him – deserves some time. Surely, some leeway for a “honeymoon period” is expected between the President-elect and the nation, even for skeptics or non-supporters who have always been uncomfortable with his alleged link to local death squads and summary executions in Davao.

But is it disturbing to hear some of Mr. Duterte’s words before and after the election, particularly even for those prepared to critically engage his incoming administration based on principle, insofar as they refer to and impact on human rights.   Among them:

His provocative statements and actions, as well as his disrespectful attitudes towards women, particularly (and shockingly) even against victims of gender violence [1];
His inciteful exhortations endorsing extra-judicial killings of suspected drug dealers and other criminals, and the setting up for rich bounties to entice citizens into this deadly endeavor [2];
His impatience with (non-Davao-based) media workers and his apparent lack of appreciation as to their role in democratic discourse, and most disturbingly his similar endorsement of the use of deadly force against journalists who were perceived to be “corrupt”, in a nation already considered one of the deadliest countries for journalist [3];

However he or his supporters try to minimize or massage the disturbing messages of this Dutertismo discourse, these statements are on public record and can be easily parsed as to their context and actual intent.  Even if the nation is still in a political “honeymoon period” with him, no partner in a marriage has to tolerate an attack on one’s rights and dignity, “honeymoon period” or not.

A number of Mr. Duterte’s progressive minded-supporters have requested for a broader mind in judging the President-elect, and practically appeal to the people to just disregard the rhetoric and just await the reality which they say will be much more benign. Maybe so. But while the politics of language under Mr. Duterte is still being decoded, we are informed by long experience in  how rhetoric does shape eventual reality, oftentimes in ways that are not benign.

On the rhetoric alone, there can be no denying that these proposed measures violate accepted standards of due process, effectively diminish the rule of law, and become a State-sponsored license to solve complex societal problems at the end of the barrel of a gun. The questionable pseudo-vigilantism being encouraged is precisely what birthed the infamous Davao Death Squads, a “solution” which effectively incites more violence and murder, and exacerbates the culture of impunity that has allowed extra-judicial killings to continue in our benighted country. For sure, these statements and any violence they incite are against universally recognized international human rights standards.

Some belittle Mr. Duterte’s words as mere expressions of braggadocio, or just humorous hyperbole, or the use of street lingo of the masses that shock only the elite. But how really does it play out in real life? Even now, media reports indicate a rise in reports of killings and deaths in shootouts of many “suspected criminals”, with speculation rife that the Dutertismo call to arms gas trickled down to local administrations and law enforcement (and another non-State armed elements?), emboldering those who hold local state coercive powers. With unfriendly media now in the crosshairs, will people therefore be less inclined  to level criticism at the new Administration?

Mr. Duterte’s attacks on media and others critical of him – even as they are ironically framed as an assertion of his own “freedom of expression” – on the contrary result in the suppression of this freedom, serving to foster a “chilling effect” on dissent and contrarian opinions, lest they be called out as expression of “stupidity” or “idiocy”, or worse, corruption-tainted hatchet job paid by enemies of his government and therefore worthy of violent reprisal.

The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) therefore adds its voice to the few who, during this “honeymoon phase”, have sought to address these threats and counter any such chilling effects by issuing appropriate statements of concern and condemnation (such as various journalist organizations, women’s groups, and international free expression advocates) about the rhetoric which may construct reality.

In response to these contrarian voices, it is unfortunate that President-elect’s immediate reactions have been even more confrontational, strident, and even condescending and insulting.  Either as a part of a deliberate strategy, or merely an expression of the Mayor’s well-known candor and honesty, Mr. Duterte has managed to disrespect and even malign such venerable institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Catholic Church, and even the United Nations.

Lest these attacks be deemed justifiable due to acknowledged flaws within these institutions, we must point out how these attacks only serve to weaken the democratic ecosystem which exists in our country. We must remember that part of the institutional roles of such institutions – free media, independent churches, national human rights institutions, and apex intergovernmental bodies like the UN –  is precisely to prevent abuse of States and their instrumentalists.

Naming and shaming these organizations for perceived slights betrays a lack of appreciation of their institutional roles in a democracy,; vilifying them or their representatives in effect seeks to de-legitimize them in the eyes of the public. This ultimately will lead to a weakening of the democratic system of checks and balance that prevents over concentration of power by the State.

The President-elect recent warnings to Congress not to initiate any legislative inquiries on his anti-crime initiatives can also be considered as another frontal attack on an institutional pillar of democracy, which again serves to undermine the balance of power between and among co-equal branches of government. Is the President-elect above any democratic limits on Executive power?

Dutertismo came to power democratically on the will of vast numbers of Filipinos fed up with a perceived old and uncaring order, and traditional politician-based responses to age-old social exclusions. Hence we believe that President-elect Duterte has to be given a chance to make Dutertismo work in such a complex political, economic and social environment far from the more simple parameters of local governance. If this requires the President-elect utilizing a more frank, no-nonsense, and take-no-prisoners discourse that apparently resonates with a large section of the citizenry which has felt historically excluded, then so be it. It may eventually deserve our political support, if it delivers its promise of genuine change.

But when this discourse and political style crosses a line that serves to diminish the human rights which the Filipino people have fought for decades to defend, or impugns the legitimacy of democratic institutions tasked to defend these rights, or belittles the rights and freedoms of any Filipino, it is incumbent in all Filipinos to speak up.

On the question of human rights therefore, Dutertismo will be ultimately judged on whether it will address the culture of impunity that taints this country, or contribute to it. Even in this honeymoon period” – or at any time manifests itself actually – any violent rhetoric that negatively impacts on rights must immediately be responded to and countered, lest it evolve into political reality.

We urge the incoming President and his administration to refrain from inciting any more violence, and to discontinue any lines of attack on legitimate and democratic institutions, for what is at stake is beyond just his a vowed personal right to free expression. He – as de facto the most powerful person in the country now – must be circumspect based on his mandate to defend the very institutions that has allowed his rise to power.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionist, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller
German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor

Reference:

[1] Mariz Umali Case; 1986 Australian Rape Victim (Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill); Duterte on women’s rights complaint: Go to hell; Women’s rights groups file complaint vs. Duterte; PWD groups file complaint against Duterte

[2] Duterte and the Davao Death Squad;  5 dead in Philippines as Duterte-inspired street executions start;  The summary execution after the PH Election; Vigilante killings alarm CHR, church execs; Duterte warns cops involved in drug trade: I’ll kill you; Rodrigo Duterte: Shoot a drug dealer, get a medal; Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte: Public ‘can kill’ criminals

[3] Media corruption root cause of journalists’ killings;  Duterte, the Philippines’ #NoFilter president, is no joke for journalists; U.N. special rapporteurs condemn Duterte’s stand on assassination of Journalist

For inquiries, please contact FMA at: info AT fma dot ph
Attention: A. G. Alegre

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[Press Release] ICT policy advocacy group joins ‘Black Tuesday’ EDSA Protest -FMA

ICT policy advocacy group joins ‘Black Tuesday’ EDSA Protest

FMA Stop Cyber ML“Policies governing the cyberspace or in general, information and communications technology (ICT) should always be in the framework of rights,” reiterates Foundation for Media Alternatives, an organization active for pushing for the upholding of human rights in different ICT policy spaces.

FMA

FMA joins the Filipino people in EDSA, in expressing its disappointment over the Supreme Court (SC) decision on February 18, 2014 upholding the constitutionality of majority of the provisions on of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. “While we understand that the SC has (partially) seen the light and declared the unconstitutionality of section 12 or the real-time collection of traffic data, and section 19 or the blocking of access to computer data based only on prima facie evidence, we are still dismayed with SC upholding the constitutionality of  4(c)(1) which is cybersex, 4(c)(4) which is cyberlibel, and section 6 which would increase the penalty to both offenses to one degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code,” said Nica Dumlao, Internet Rights coordinator of FMA. “These provisions are oppressive, susceptible to abuse, and against the fundamental liberties guaranteed by the constitution.”

Section 4(c)(1), which is the cybersex provision as the law states is “the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration”

Section 4(c)(4), which is cyberlibel is “the unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

“Because of its overly broad and vague definition on cybersex, the law will just be used to further perpetrate abuse on women and will even criminalize victim-survivors trapped in cyber prostitution dens,” added Lisa Garcia, Take Back the Tech Philippines campaign coordinator. Take Back the Tech is a global campaign to utilize technology to address violence against women (VAW).

FMA added that “they are worried that with the SC upholding the constitutionality of criminal libel online, those who try to advocate for reforms in the government by expressing discontent or by exposing corruption might be harassed and gagged by powerful and guilty politicians.”

“We believe that human rights being enjoyed offline should also be protected online and with the SC not standing by this rights framework is problematic,” Dumlao reiterated. RA 10175 or what we call Cyber Martial Law restrict rather than protect and promote internet freedom. It imposes limits on legitimate online activities and even criminalizes the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) instead of harnessing it.

FMA commits to exhaust all possible avenues to ensure that human rights on the internet will be upheld and not violated by repressive policies such as this law. We will continue to fight for Internet Freedom alongside stakeholders for a truly democratic and developed nation.

For more information, contact Nica Dumlao – ndumlao@fma.ph, +63915 979 28 94

25 February, 2014
For Immediate Release

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Event] 3rd HR Pinduteros’ Awards on December 2, 2013, 7:00PM, at KALAYAAN BISTRO GRILL, #106 Kalayaan Road, Diliman, Quezon City

pinduteros choice poster teaser copy

Dear fellow human rights defender,

Greetings from the Human Rights Online Philippines!

“Internet Freedom… Our right, Our choice, Our voice.”

For the third time, the Human Rights Online Philippines or HRonlinePH.com https://hronlineph.com/ will give recognition to human rights defenders who, individually or with others, work to promote and defend human rights by using the online platforms.

On 2nd December, HRonlinePH in partnership with the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) http://fma.ph/ will hold the 3rd Human Rights (HR) Pinduteros’ Choice Awards, which give recognition to exceptional individuals and organizations in recognition of their achievement in defending all human rights through online and offline.

Bringing HR Pinduteros to life….HRonlinePH knows that as good as its site content might be, its impact would be solely dependent on the number of readers, number of hits, number of generated feedbacks, and motivating those readers to become regular readers. HRonlinePH turned its focus to increasing ease of access to site content through effective and systematic use of social media tools and by consolidating selected groups of bloggers, writers and human rights defenders, through the HR Pinduteros, who all work to protect and defend all human rights.

The 3rd HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards is an opportunity not only to give recognition to the work and achievements of HR Pinduteros, but also to participate and to join the public in celebration of the International Human Rights Week.

We would like to invite you to join us at the 3rd HR Pinduteros’ Awards on December 2, 2013 (Monday), 7:00PM, at KALAYAAN BISTRO GRILL, #106 Kalayaan Road, Diliman, Quezon City, for a day of coming together to assert and to stand up for “Internet Freedom… Our right, Our choice, Our voice.”

For more information please contact HRonlinePH team at +63921-9645017, +63933-4654904, +63928-8443717, +63906-3959976 and +63923-4261110 and through e-mail hronlineph@gmail.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Human-Rights-Online-Philippines/160809923975269?ref=hl

Thank you. Way to go HRonlinePH.
Sincerely,

HRonlinePH Team