Tag Archives: Freedom of expression

[Right-up] I Unwittingly Applied as a Philippine-based Troll for a US Far Right Website -by Karlo Sevilla

#HumanRights

I Unwittingly Applied as a Philippine-based Troll for a US Far Right Website

On October 2, 2020, I read the online article, The billion-dollar business of social media trolling in the Philippines, and what it means for public relations globally by Alex Malouf, published on Influence on July 27, 2019. It reminded me of how I almost became part of that burgeoning industry the previous year:

Last week of April 2019, in search of a bigger monthly income, I answered a job ad on Facebook for a content writer. Soon, I visited the office of the business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Quezon City, Philippines.

That first day of application, one of the tests was to write an article based on another published in a so-called health news website: NaturalNews.com. I was appalled by the articles I read on that site. One claimed that US states under Democrat governors are being run like Venezuela. Another article questioned the validity of global warming. I sensed the extreme-right ideology in its contents right away. And upon checking when I got home, I learned this website is banned on social media sites Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I hoped that that website was used only as an example for the writing test. Unfortunately, my hope was dashed, as I later received a call and an email from the human resources officer asking me to review further the contents of that website for the remaining tests, as—tada!—we were its prospective content writers. And, passing those tests was the penultimate stage before we get interviewed by the client representative.

With the realization, I decided to stop my job application—even though the human resources officer sounded amenable to granting me the salary I asked for during an earlier phone interview. I refuse to raise my children with money from that website of irresponsible, bigoted journalism.

The HR officer told me that a number of applicants did back out after realizing what the website was all about, and tried to persuade me to continue my application. It made me feel proud to know my compatriots are principled. Still, I’m sorry for any Filipino writer who ended up taking that job, and who may be currently writing for that website of US extreme right propaganda.

Karlo Sevilla of Quezon City, Philippines is the author of the full-length poetry collection, “Metro Manila Mammal” (Soma Publishing, 2018), and the chapbook, “You” (Origami Poems Project, 2017). Recognized among The Best of Kitaab 2018 and twice nominated for the Best of the Net, his poems appear in various publications worldwide, including Philippines Graphic, Matter, Collective Unrest, I am not a silent poet, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Radius, Razorhouse Magazine, The Wayward Sword, Tuck Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The Ramingo’s Porch, and others. He was also a former journalist for the Philippine Online Chronicles and was the winner of the HR Right-Up category in Human Rights Online Philippines’ 8th (2018) HR Pinduteros Choice Awards.

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[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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[Event] Freedom of Expression Conference FreeXP.con IV

Freedom of Expression Conference FreeXP.con IV

“Fighting misinformation and defending freedom of expression during COVID-19 in the Philippines”

Date:    30 November 2020 (Monday)

The Human Rights Online Philippines https://hronlineph.com/ is excited to announce the Freedom of Expression Conference 4 that will take place both online and offline.

Since 2017, we have brought together human rights defenders, journalists, information and technology experts and freedom of expression advocates in the country to exchange views and share experiences about asserting human rights and claiming freedom of opinion and expression through online platforms.

Here’s a glimpse into what the FreeXP.con experience is like. You can explore moments of FreeXP.con at https://hronlineph.com/freedom-of-expression-conference-freexp-con3/

FreeXP.con IV with a theme, “Fighting misinformation and defending freedom of expression during COVID-19 in the Philippines”, will provide a critical platform for what is required at this moment: experts and advocates connecting, coordinating, and advancing a shared agenda to help in combating misinformation and disinformation online.

Permissible restrictions on freedom of expression for reasons of public health, may not put in jeopardy the right itself. The World Health Organization (WHO) has emphasized that accurate, timely information is essential to fighting COVID-19 pandemic. The government should adopt responsible strategies of risk communication which pay attention to rumors and correct them, do not amplify and promote false information.

Yet the government is cracking down on people and implementing sweeping restrictions under the guise of combating misinformation. While we share the concern that false information about the pandemic could lead to health concerns, panic, and disorder. More Filipinos are turning to social media platforms to vent their frustrations about the government’s response to stop the spread of COVID-19. “The power in the context of COVID is just as clear. The platforms are serving as stand-ins for government authorities, posting public service announcements and links to government guidance – benign and public-minded enough – or taking down calls to action and protest against the lockdowns.”[1]

This year, we will be addressing intersecting issues of critical influence, ranging from disinformation and misinformation about COVID-19, shrinking civic space and attacks on fundamental freedoms.

FreeXP.con4 will take place on a tailored platform, and as always, there will be variety of opportunities to engage and network, and identify compelling opinions, resources, and narratives. We will help facilitate interviews, and highlight opportunities for coverage with our wide range of participants – including human rights defenders, youth, media practitioners and UN representatives.

Subscribe to the FreeXP.con IV rundown, and follow HRonlinePH on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

Mark your calendars and save the date: 30 November 2020. We can’t wait to see you online and offline.  The HRonlinePH shall abide by the health protocols and government guidelines during the event at all times for enhancing protection of individuals and preventing spread of COVID-19, and by making adjustments to meet the unique needs and circumstances of all participants.

Human Rights Online Philippines is an organization that works for the protection and defense of human rights defenders’ right to freedom of expression online. HRonlinePH provides practical support through physical and digital security training, advocacy and campaigning.

FreeXP.con IV including the 10th Human Rights Pinduteros are milestones of the HRonlinePH initiatives with support of the British Embassy Manila under its British Embassy Enabling Funds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdlW9816__k

Objectives

  • Identify strategic opportunities for combating misinformation and disinformation during the pandemic by providing trusted guidance and resources that helps to counter disinformation; and
  • Plan actions to take advantage of these strategic opportunities to strengthen local protection measures to freedom of expression, specifically develop a strategy to counter efforts to limit the impact of restrictive legislation, including legislation on counter-terrorism as well as restrictions on CSOs, freedom of expression and association.

Target participants:

Human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, youth, digital security practitioners and media in the Philippines

Format online session

  • Shrinking democratic space in the Philippines
  • Human rights defenders’ freedom of expression: facing up to the threat
  • Fact checking
  • Best practices for combatting disinformation and propaganda while still promoting freedom of expression

Expected outcome

The expected outcomes of the conference are:

  • Stakeholders will gain a better understanding of the challenges linked to the protection and promotion of the freedom of expression both online and offline in the context of national scope;
  • Identification of protection measures for human rights defenders, journalists and individuals in claiming their right to freedom of expression; and
  • Freedom of Expression Conference IV Declaration.

[1] David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

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[Video] Huwag Matakot Magpahayag! Fight misinformation and disinformation on human rights! -HRonlinePH.com

#HumanRights #FightMisinformation #FightDisInformation #Pindu10nayan! Huwag Matakot Magpahayag! Fight misinformation and disinformation on human rights! -HRonlinePH.com

Mga ka-HR-pinduteros!

Huwag Matakot Magpahayag! Fight misinformation and disinformation on human rights!
Join us as we launch our continuing campaign for the defense and promotion of freedom of expression, access to truthful information, and fight against misinformation and disinformation.

Together, we capacitate ourselves and amplify truth by Informing and inspiring people to take action for a meaningful change for all.

#WagMatakotMagpahayag

#FightMisinformation

#FightDisinformation

#Pindu10nayan!

PLS SUBSCRIBE AND HIT THE NOTIFICATION BELL. LIKE, COMMENT AND SHARE!

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[Statement] CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the arrest of Cebu film writer Maria Victoria Beltran

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the arrest of Cebu film writer Maria Victoria Beltran

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses concern over the arrest of Maria Victoria ‘Bambi’ Beltran early Sunday, 19 April 2020, in Cebu City.

Reports say that the warrantless arrest was made due to an alleged violation of the Cybercrime Law after Beltran posted on Facebook what she claims as a satirical response to the rising number of positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz.

Beltran was also said to have taken down the post after Cebu Mayor Edgar Labella threatened her with an arrest.

A fully functional democratic society should be able to allow the reasonable exercise of free speech and expression as a means to participate in matters concerning public life. Arrests should never be made as a default response to dissent. Governments, especially in localities, should be able to engage in a healthy dialogue to enlighten its citizens instead of triggering fear.

In this regard, we hope that we can channel our collective energies and efforts to curbing the transmission of COVID-19 and addressing the socio-economic needs on the ground brought about by the loss of livelihood due to enhanced quarantine, which is equally pressing human rights concerns.

We stress that human rights cannot be suspended even during public emergencies. Restrictions to freedoms are also bound by the parameters set by human rights law and should never lead to their abrogation. In this regard, CHR Region VII is already investigating this case in the interest of knowing the truth and in defense of freedoms and human dignity.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-atty-jacqueline-ann-de-guia-on-the-arrest-of-cebu-/2756915374424990/

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[Press Release] Philippine Government Misusing Covid-19 Law Against Critics -HRW

Philippine Government Misusing Covid-19 Law Against Critics
Activists Charged with Sedition, ‘Fake News’
By Carlos H. Conde

Philippine authorities are increasingly using the Covid-19 pandemic and new public health restrictions as an excuse to charge political opponents and activists with criminal offenses.

The latest targets were seven activists trying to distribute food aid last week in Bulacan province, north of Manila, who were stopped by police. They now face charges of violating the emergency law on COVID-19 and incitement to commit sedition after newspapers and magazines with anti-government content were found in their vehicle. The activists, including former opposition congressman Ariel Casilao, said they had proper permits for their relief activity.

The inclusion of the charge of inciting sedition – encouraging people to act against the government — against Casilao and the others raises concerns that the Duterte administration may try to exploit the crisis to crack down more broadly on political activism and dissent. With the country on lockdown and police, military, and local government officials putting up checkpoints such as the one that stopped Casilao’s group, known activists and political opposition figures are at risk of being charged over what should be a purely public health driven campaign.

“Inciting to sedition” is also a charge that has frequently been used in the past against activists accused of being communist rebels, opening the door for the government to invoke its counter-insurgency apparatus.

In another prominent case, Edgar Labella, the mayor of Cebu City in the central Philippines, ordered the arrest on April 19 of Maria Victoria Beltran, an actress, and screenwriter, for a Facebook post the mayor deemed “fake news.” Authorities detained Beltran for two nights, unnecessarily risking exposure to COVID-19, and allegedly arrested her without a warrant and denied her access to a lawyer.

Since the passage of the COVID-19 law last month, the authorities have investigated dozens of people and arrested several for posts on social media the government claims are “fake news.” Although “fake news” is not in any Philippine jurisprudence, the COVID-19 law does criminally penalize spreading “false information” related to the pandemic.

The Duterte administration has sought to increase its authoritarian grip on the country by politicizing the COVID-19 response at the expense of controlling the escalating pandemic. The government should signal that it’s taking the health crisis seriously. It could start by dropping the charges against Casilao, his colleagues, and Beltran, and ending politically motivated investigations of people’s reading materials and social media posts.

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[Statement] HRW calls for release of Cebu writer arrested for FB post

HRW calls for release of Cebu writer arrested for FB post

Human Rights Watch views with concern the arrest of Cebu City-based writer and actor Bambi Beltran, allegedly for violating the law on “false information.” Her arrest is a case of government officials misapplying the law. Her post on Facebook — “9,000 + new cases (all from Zapatera) of COVID-19 in Cebu City in one day. We are now the epicenter in the whole Solar System.” – is clearly commentary that was meant to be humorous. It was based on earlier official pronouncements that the whole community of Zapatera, which has a population of more than 9,000, has been deemed “contaminated” by the COVID-19 virus. While public officials dealing with COVID-19 are expected to feel stressed, overwhelmed, even aggrieved by criticism, misusing the law to violate freedom of expression is a disproportionate and wrong response. Nothing it what Beltran said can be legitimately construed as a hindrance to Cebu City’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of arresting people for their thoughts, Cebu City officials should focus their attention on defeating COVID-19 and provide truthful, accurate information to the public. Citizens like Beltran have a right to express their opinions about what is happening; government officials should resist the temptation to act despotic in responding to those concerns.

Carlos Conde
Philippines researcher
Human Rights Watch

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[Statement] Free Expression, #FreeBAMBI -DAKILA

Free Expression, #FreeBAMBI
Statement on the arrest of DAKILA member, Maria Victoria “Bambi” Beltran

DAKILA strongly condemns the warrantless arrest of artist and writer Maria Victoria “Bambi” Beltran by the Cebu City police over her Facebook post responding to the rising COVID-19 cases in the city. This is a flagrant attack on our freedom of expression and a shocking display of misplaced government priorities in the face of the urgent need for comprehensive health interventions and basic social services to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Recently, Beltran, a DAKILA member, active cultural worker, and vocal advocate, posted on Facebook a satirical response to the rising positive cases of COVID-19 in Sitio Zapatera in Barangay Luz, which said, “9,000+ new cases (All from Zapatera) of COVID-19 in Cebu City in one day. We are now the epicenter in the whole Solar System.” This statement echoed reports from local news that health officials from DOH Central Visayas considered the whole sitio, with a population of 9,000, as infected or presumed contaminated.

Mayor Edgardo Labella of Cebu City – who had previously appointed Beltran to the city’s cinema development council – appeared to respond to Beltran through his official Facebook page, which accused her of spreading fake news and committing a criminal act, warning that she would be arrested by the PNP Cybercrime Unit. Beltran took down her post and issued a public statement through her legal counsel, stating that her satirical post “does not spread chaos, anarchy, fear, or confusion.”

What has in fact sparked fear and confusion is the report that at 12:30 AM on the 19th of April, a Sunday, Beltran was arrested without warrant along Gorordo Avenue, Barangay Kamputhaw by the local police. Central Visayas police director Brigadier General Albert Ferro, through a Rappler article, stated that Beltran was arrested for violating RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Law. Meanwhile, Beltran’s lawyer Atty. Benjamin Militar said that they were told Beltran was charged for violating Sec 6(f) of the Bayanihan Act.

Beltran was ambushed with a warrantless arrest under cover of midnight with vague charges on a day when she could not post bail. Her alleged crime? Voicing concern about an escalating health crisis. It is appalling that the local government appears to be more concerned about policing public discourse rather than giving their full attention to the plight of Cebuanos at risk of succumbing to the virus, who lack tests, facilities, and PPEs to fight on the frontlines, or basic needs to sustain themselves amid community lockdown.

We call on Mayor Labella and the Cebu City Police to #FreeBambi. We call on our government to consistently uphold human rights as they protect their constituents from the dangers of the ongoing pandemic. We call on fellow Filipinos to condemn attacks on their freedom of expression and continue to use their voices to demand for a transparent, rights-based, and science-backed response to the COVID-19 crisis.

#FreeBambi #IStandWithBambi #UpholdFreedomOfExpression #DefendFreeSpeechInCebu #UpholdHumanRights #ProtectThePeople #COVID19PH

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[Statement] We condemn the arrest of Cebuano Film-writer and Business owner Bambi Beltran! -MAT

MOVEMENT AGAINST TYRANNY CEBU’S STATEMENT ON THE ILLEGAL ARREST OF MISS BAMBI BELTRAN
April 19, 2020

We condemn the arrest of Cebuano Film-writer and Business owner Bambi Beltran!

As of 12:30 today, April 19, Ms. Maria Victoria Beltran better known by many as Ms. Bambi was arrested and currently detained at the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 for supposedly violating the provision of the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act. There are still no charges filed against her.

The supposed violation was based on Ms. Beltran’s Facebook post about the situation of Sitio Zapatera in Brgy. Luz which was labeled by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella as “Fake News”. The Bayanihan act has a provision that prohibits the spread of false information pertaining to the CoVid-19 situation.

The Movement Against Tyranny Cebu denounces the action of the Cebu City government and the Philippine National Police as a misguided approach in addressing the problems posed by the pandemic.

Beltran’s post was in response to the vague proclamations made by the Cebu City Government and the DOH stating that the entire sitio is considered to be contaminated and infected. Without any categorical explanation about what it meant and no further discussion on the implications and further plans, such proclamation is subject to various take by the public. The City Government and the DOH failed to provide the public with clear and reliable information. It only posed fear upon the Cebuano citizens most especially those who are in Brgy. Luz.

Miss Beltran’s post was also satirical of such vague information shared by these responsible government offices and was not presented as a news claim. Instead of persecuting Miss Beltran and those who “mistook” the DOH’s and City Government’s statements, it could have been an opportunity for your accountable office to clarify the matter. While a lot of Cebuanos, Especially the residents of Sitio Zapatera, are in worsening socio-economic conditions and the constant threat of the pandemic, all efforts of the national and local government must be in improving its medical capacity and social amelioration.

The movement also denounces the use of this “Anti- Fake news” provision of the Bayanihan Act by the National and Local Government to persecute common citizens and critiques while they turn a blind eye on Government institutions and personalities peddling false information about the pandemic such as the PTV news and Teddy Boy Locsin.

This brand of leadership is not what we need right now. What we need is an efficient government willing and able to address the medical and socio-economic needs of its constituents, not a leviathan very eager to maintain its posture to the extent of persecuting ordinary citizens.

With this, we reiterate the call for the release of Ms. Beltran and call upon the Cebu City Government to be less reactive on the situation and redirect all its resources and energy to trace, contain, and treat the virus to end this Pandemic.

#FreeBambi
#EndStateRespression
#TransparencyNotTyranny
#SolusyongMedikalHindiMilitar

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[Statement] of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on recent COVID-19 measures that impact the right to privacy and free choice of employment

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on recent COVID-19 measures that impact the right to privacy and free choice of employment

At this stage of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID) pandemic, we are seeing the steady growth of confirmed cases, the increasing number of deaths, and the growing challenges that beset our public health system. In this context, we recognize the urgency of implementing restrictive measures to address the gravity of the situation.

However, as we have previously stressed, protecting public health entails protection of other rights as well, which are equally essential to the genuine fulfilment of the highest standard of the right to health. There are clear guidelines in ensuring balance in protecting public health while respecting human rights based on international law as well as domestic laws. Under the Siracusa Principles—a guide to government response for reasons of public health or emergency—the measures must be proportionate to the attainment of clear objectives, least intrusive and restrictive available, respectful of human dignity, among others.

Two recent pronouncements of the government—disclosure of personal information of COVID-19 cases to enhance contract tracing efforts and deployment ban of overseas healthcare workers to address shortage of healthcare personnel—are susceptible to overreach in terms of guaranteeing the right to privacy and freedom to choose gainful employment respectively.

On the disclosure of personal information, while the government clarified that this shall be done in accordance with the Data Privacy Act, clear parameters must be outlined to ensure that it will not overstep the right to privacy. We recognize the importance of contract tracing to contain the virus, but it must be done with utmost care for privacy and confidentiality.

Click the link below to read the complete story:

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on recent COVID-19 measures that impact the right to privacy and free choice of employment

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[Statement] SHOUT OUT and NEVER HOLD BACK -HRonlinePH

HRonlinePH Statement on Defending the Freedom of Expression (FoE) in times of public emergency
13 April 2020

SHOUT OUT and NEVER HOLD BACK

Shutting our mouth can’t prevent us from voicing our opinion. (Also see March 30 Statement)

While drastic times may call for drastic steps, any emergency measures particularly responding to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic must be necessary, proportionate, and should have the minimal possible impact on human rights especially on the right to freedom of expression.

Instead of targeting critics, stifling dissent and imposing restrictions on the flow of information and dissemination, the Philippine government should focus primarily on protecting the right to health of all through the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

The freedom of expression which is the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas are considered as the indispensable precondition for the exercise of other rights and freedoms. It is only when people have access to information that they can be capable of rendering a responsible opinion.

Though certain limitations on fundamental freedoms are unavoidable during a public health crisis, restricting freedom of expression without valid reasons is unacceptable. While we share the concern over the proliferation of fake news and disinformation that may lead to confusion, panic, and disorder but it may be countered by providing truthful, timely and reliable information through credible platforms and channels. We can be both free and ignorant.

Censorship as well as criminalizing the sharing of information both online and offline may create a chilling effect and tremendous impact on our democratic life as a nation. Now, more than ever, that the public should be kept informed and allowed to scrutinize the government policies and measures in response to the public health crisis as everyone’s life is at stake. The government should allow the free flow of information by encouraging the public to engage in dialogues with other stakeholders.

Public health, after all, does not only depend on the availability and accessibility of health care services, but must correspond to accurate information about health situations and the means to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s community.

It is during this challenging time that freedom of expression is much more imperative when our government is intruding to our day-to-day lives. As it exercises unbridled authority while seeking more power, there is always a possibility of misuse and abuse.

As citizens and netizens, it is our duty to ensure that checks and balances exist even when government system is not functioning. We can only rely on our sovereign power to seek, to know, to speak, to share and to act in this time of crisis.

IT IS OUR RIGHT. LET’S SHOUT IT OUT.

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Watch Now! LIVE Stream: Freedom of Expression, Right to Information and Digital Rights amid CoViD19 Responses

Freedom of Expression, Right to Information and Digital Rights amid CoViD19 Responses

with:

Thina Lopez
Foundation for Media Alternatives

Ayeen Karunungan
Doctoral Researcher on Social Media and
Political Communication

Rhoda Viajar
LAPIS

Atty. Marnie Tonson
Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance

Luis Gorgonio
Human Rights Online Philippines

Moderator:
Sonia Tomalabcab
DAKILA

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COVID-19 Human Rights Violation Reporting
https://idefend.ph/covid19-hrv-reporting

Websites

iDEFEND
https://idefend.ph/

PAHRA
https://philippinehumanrights.org/

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[Campaign] SHOUT-OUT para sa mga Katutubong mamamayan ng Didipio! #HumanRights and #Environmental Defenders

SHOUT-OUT para sa mga Katutubong mamamayan ng Didipio! #HumanRights and #Environmental Defenders

Inaanyayahan ka namin na makiisa sa SHOUT-OUT CHALLENGE.

Araw-araw nating gagawin ito para suportahan ang malayang pagpapahayag. Tayo ay nakikiisa , nagpasasalamat at pagpupugay sa mga patuloy na NAGPAPAHAYAG nang MAKATOTOHANAN, MAY KABULUHAN AT MAY PAGMAMALASAKIT SA KALIKASAN AT SA KAPWA… Online at offline.

Kung sang-ayon ka, pls post your own, creative and loud SHOUT-OUT (ANO MAN ANG PORMA, TADTARIN NATIN NG SHOUT-OUT ANG SOC MED)…pls copy and repost this, and invite your friends para sa SHOUT-OUT CHALLENGE na ito.

[Statement] On the recent harassment of UE Dawn’s editor-in-chief for posting opinion on the government’s inaction towards COVID-19 pandemic- The Guild

The Guilds strongly condemn this kind of harassment to Joshua Molo, editor-in-chief of the University of the East’s Dawn, after he has been subjected to threats by his former teachers and the responding officials of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija where he resides.

Mr. Molo was forced to publicly apologize after a former high school teacher cried foul over his posts in his personal social media space. The teacher sought help to area officials where they threatened to file a cyber-libel case against Mr. Molo. The editor-in-chief was then threatened to be forcibly picked up once he discontinues posting his opinions towards the government.

May it be known to everybody that this kind of act against Mr. Molo is a clear violation to Article III Section 4 of the Bill of Rights which states that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The publication strongly believes that Mr. Molo, and everyone’s right to free speech should not be delimited or bounded by praises to the government. This act of persecution is suppressive and dehumiliating and that people behind this blatant act must be deemed responsible for forming guilt to someone who has not done anything wrong to feel so.

__________________
Designed and Photo by John Robin S. Abejar

#TheGuilds
#DefendPressFreedom

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[Statement] Panawagan ng pagkundena sa pananakot sa Punong Patnugot ng UE Dawn -KATAPAT

Mariing naming kinukundena ang pananakot at tangkang pagbusal sa karapatang magpahayag ng punong patnugot ng University of the East Dawn.

Pinatawag si Joshua Molo sa barangay hall ng San Fernando Sur sa Cabiao, Nueva Ecija matapos niyang ipaabot sa social media ang kaniyang dismaya sa ilan sa kanyang mga dating guro. Ito ay matapos gawing katawa-tawa ng mga nasabing guro ang kanyang naunang post na nagpapahayag ng kaniyang mga saloobin at mga kritisismo sa Administrasyong Duterte. Sapilitan siyang pinagawa ng public apology at tinakot na sasampahan ng kasong libel kung hindi siya humingi ng paumanhin. Ang mas malalay pa ay nared-tag siya’t sinabihan na huhulihin o dadakpin siya ng mga pulis sakaling maulit pa ang kaniyang ginawa.

Ang pananakot at tangkang pagbusal na ito kay Molo ay isang malinaw na paglabag sa kanyang karapatang pantao. Malinaw na pinanindigan lang ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at ng kaniyang administrasyon ang patuloy nitong pag-atake sa mga kritiko ng kaniyang rehimen.

Tinatawagan namin ang lahat na makiisa sa pakikibaka ni Molo, ng kabataan, at ng mamamayang Pilipino para ang ating karapatan sa malayang pagpapahayag. Sa gitna ng krisis, mas kailangan ng mga matang mapagmatyag sa mga barbarismo ng ating pamahalaan.

Laban, Kabataan!

[Statement] No to criminalization of free speech -NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines denounces the criminalization of free speech and expression by the National Bureau of Investigation as disclosed by human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.

News reports quoted Diokno as saying he had taken on the case of a netizen who had been subpoenaed by the National Bureau of Investigation to appear before its Cybercrime Division to explain a Facebook post “concerning an alleged misused (sic) of government funds,” which supposedly violated Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code, or the “unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances.” And subsequent reports said the NBI had sent subpoeanas to the owners of 27 social media accounts they were monitoring for supposedly spreading fake news about the health crisis.

We agree with Diokno’s contention that ‘di na makatao ang nangyayari. Ang dami nang namamatay, pati frontliners, pero imbis na COVID, kritiko ang gusto nilang puksain.’

Democracy can only thrive amid the free exchange of and respect for ideas and opinions, including those we may vehemently disagree with.

That ordinary citizens may now find themselves summoned by law enforcement and ordered to explain their sentiments and statements will certainly send a chilling message: “Speak at your own risk.”

And it is but a short step from this to targeting critical reporting and commentary.

As we have said time and again, in times of crisis, MORE, not less, independent journalism is needed. The same goes, if not more so, with free speech and expression.

This is no longer media’s fight alone. This should be everyone’s cause. Every voice we allow to be silenced is one voice closer to our own.

National Directorate
+639175155991

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[In the news] Rights groups slam Duterte’s ‘shoot to kill’ order: Prioritize lives, not violence -RAPPLER.com

Human rights group says President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement may lead to more abuses as Luzon remains in lockdown in the face of the novel coronavirus outbreak

Human rights groups on Thursday, April 2, condemned President Rodrigo Duterte’s “dangerous” shoot-to-kill order against quarantine violators amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Duterte’s new threats should not be viewed as empty, considering the thousands killed under his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“At the very least, Duterte gives the police all the justification they need to commit human rights abuses against people who may be violating these COVID19 regulations because they needed to find work or food,” Carlos Conde of HRW said in a statement.

Read complete story @www.rappler.com

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[Statement] Digital rights advocates demand the repeal of Section 6 of Bayanihan to Heal as One Act

We, the undersigned, express our grave concern over a provision of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act that threatens our constitutional rights to free expression and access to information.

Haphazardly approved on 25 March 2020, the law penalizes “fake news” or disinformation under Section 6 (f), which reads:

“Individuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion; and those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts.”

While the provision appears to address the long-standing concern of journalists and activists over false information, which is typically circulated by paid trolling, it can also be used to curtail free speech, especially pieces of information that are critical of the government. Given its specific context and current form, Section 6 can be just as detrimental to democracy and human rights.

‘False information’ is not defined in any existing law, which means that its determination is left to the whims of law enforcers. The provision does not distinguish between those who passively ‘like’, share, comment and those who deliberately generate false content or actively discuss pieces of information that are deemed false.

The COVID-19 pandemic has a historical significance, being the most infectious threat that has hit multiple countries since Ebola and SARS. In this context, sharing complete and correct information can save many lives. But the pandemic also has global and local political ramifications, which require scrutiny and vigilance. It speaks of Philippine relations to China. It puts the knowledge, skills, strategies, and authenticity of public officials to the test. Like any disaster, it shakes up systems in ways that expose the good and the bad. Good practices including consultative planning, innovative thinking, and collaborative approaches continue to shine through amidst the double standards, nepotism, corruption, censorship and red tape imposed by many government offices and public officials.

In the last two weeks alone, we have seen abuses perpetrated by public officials. In Cebu, for example, the governor made a rapper promise before the public that he would never swear at and criticize the government’s response to COVID-19 in social media. During patrols, we have seen barangay officials and police apprehend curfew violators and penalize them by exposing them under the sun for hours, placing a child in a coffin and detaining teens in a dog cage. This, on top of the Duterte administration’s military rather than a public health approach to the pandemic.

But we have also seen the positive impact of free speech and organizing over social media, particularly during the lockdown of Luzon and other places. Individuals and groups were able to pool together resources and support health and other essential workers. Public outrage exposed the unnecessary use of the limited COVID-19 testing kits by asymptomatic politicians and prevented the unfair sacking of health officials who opposed this VIP treatment. It also forced the Department of Health (DOH) to go back to the drawing board after it announced the measly allowance for volunteer health workers. It also exposed incidents of gender-based violence in certain checkpoints.

As courts are closed during the lockdown, it is unlikely that those accused of violating Section 6 will have access to legal remedies. This will further congest detention centers and eventually the dockets. More importantly, it will likely target the more critical voices, especially among those who have no political clout.

We urge the government to repeal Section 6, particularly its provision on false information and instead use its resources to generate, curate and disseminate critical pieces of information to the public and specific constituents towards addressing COVID-19 and supporting the needs of those most rendered vulnerable. We have seen creative examples of these which, when practiced more widely, can benefit more communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a crucial point to use information in saving lives. It is also a time to make people and systems work in favor of rights. Our democratic space is more crucial than ever. The damages wrought upon it by fake news prior to the pandemic can only be repaired by promoting critical discourses. Make it healthy by keeping it free.

Signatories:

Individuals:

  • Al Alegre
  • Alvin Gallardo
  • April Gomez Baldovino
  • Archill Niña F. Capistrano, BOT Chairperson of the Children’s Legal Bureau and Assistant Professor, UP Cebu
  • Dianne Olivan
  • Floyd Scott Tiogangco, writer and performance artist
  • Jhewoung Capatoy
  • Jason A. Baguia, writer and assistant professor, UP Cebu
  • Joan Dymphna Saniel-Amit, Executive Director of the Children’s Legal Bureau & Faculty Member of USC College of Law
  • John Nery, columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer
  • Kathy del Socorro
  • Lito Averia
  • Marnie Tonson
  • Nica Dumlao
  • Niel Anthony Lajot
  • Noemi Lardizabal-Dado
  • Ryan Silverio
  • Shebana Alqaseer
  • Violeta de Guzman
  • Winthrop Yu
  • Weena Jade Gera, Vice Chancellor for Administration, UP Cebu
  • Yllang Montenegro, artist
  • Zenaida Ligan-Ashburn, Professor, UP Cebu

Organizations:

  • Active Vista
  • ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
  • Center for Migrant Advocacy, Phils. Inc.
  • Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific
  • Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
  • Democracy.Net.PH
  • Digital Rights Coalition
  • Empowerment Through Art
  • Foundation for Media Alternatives
  • Human Rights Online – Philippines
  • In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement
  • Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE)
  • Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
  • Philippine Human Rights Information Center
  • Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance
  • Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa
  • True Colors Coalition
  • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau

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[Statement] More Filipinos are turning to social media to vent their frustrations about the government’s response to stop the spread of COVID-19 -HRonlinePH

The Human Rights Online Philippines share the concern of a public school teacher in General Santos City, as she expressed her frustrations on Facebook over the local government’s measures that many people are going hungry amid a lockdown in said city. https://www.rappler.com/nation/256157-teacher-son-arrested-without-warrant-general-santos-city-facebook-post-coronavirus

Juliet Espinosa, a 55-year-old public school teacher was arrested by police in General Santos City without a warrant at around 8:00pm on March 27, in reprisal for posting on what local officials tagged as a “provoking” Facebook post, and face charges of inciting to sedition and disobedience to authority, and violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. She was arrested along with her son of legal age for trying to stop the police officers from taking his mother.

Based on news reports, Ms. Espinosa was behind a series of Facebook posts under the name of “Yet Rodriguez Enosencio” that criticized the local government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she was concerned with reports of the miserable situation of some residents due to the impact of the quarantine on their livelihood and that the local government had done nothing to address the problem. “Maraming mamamatay sa gutom if hindi tayo magtutulong-tulong na magreport sa Pangulo na inutil ang ating Mayor…. Panawagan sa walang makain, sugurin ‘nyo na nang sabay-sabay ang Lagao Gym. Nakatambak doon ang pagkaing para sa inyo.”

The scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly rises to the level of a public health threat that could justify restrictions on certain rights, such as those that result from the imposition of quarantine or isolation limiting freedom of movement.

Human Rights Online Philippines fully understand and support the efforts of the government to develop and implement strategies to protect human health and human life. The fundamental and non-derogable right to life is at stake, and our government is obligated to ensure its protection.*

Under international human rights law, governments have an obligation to protect the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information of all kinds, regardless of frontiers. Permissible restrictions on freedom of expression for reasons of public health, noted above, may not put in jeopardy the right itself.

The World Health Organization has emphasized that accurate, timely information is essential to fighting COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the government is cracking down on people and implementing sweeping restrictions under the guise of combating misinformation.

While we share the concern that false information about the pandemic could lead to health concerns, panic, and disorder. In this connection, we urge the government to ensure that accurate and up-to-date information about the virus, access to services, service disruptions, and other aspects of the response to the outbreak is readily available and accessible to all.

Human Rights Online Philippines emphasized that any attempts to criminalize information relating to the pandemic undermined trust in government actions, delay access to reliable information and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Especially at a time of emergency, when freedom of expression and access to information is of critical importance, broad restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.

——-

*COVID-19: Governments must promote and protect access to and free flow of information during a pandemic, say international media freedom experts, 19 March 2020

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[Statement] A call for understanding and compassion (TDC statement on the arrest of a Gensan teacher)

“While we do not condone any violent acts or statements at this period of national emergency, we plea for understanding and human compassion for our colleague. Apparently, the old lady may be desperate, perhaps not for herself or her family but for other people in her community. What she did was a response of a person who cares for her neighbors, albeit in a manner that may be contrary to our existing laws.”
-Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC)

A call for understanding and compassion
(TDC statement on the arrest of a Gensan teacher)

We are saddened by the news report that a public elementary school teacher from Gen. Santos City was arrested by the police yesterday along with her son, who is also a teacher. The arrest was made following a post in social media which according to the authorities is damaging and seditious.

The said teacher, last Friday posted this on her Facebook account, “CALLING THE ATTENTION OF THE GENERALS, MARAMING MAMAMATAY SA GUTOM IF HINDI TAYO MAGTULUNG TULONG NA IREPORT SA PANGULO NA NAPAKAINUTIL NG ATING MAYOR !!!”

After two hours, she again posted another statement that reads, “PANAWAGAN SA MGA WALA NG MAKAING GENERALS. SUGURIN NYO NA NG SABAY SABAY ANG LAGAO GYM. NAKATAMBAK DOON ANG MGA PAGKAING PARA SA INYO.”

The seemingly sarcastic posts allegedly prompted the LGU legal office to file a complaint which eventually leads to her arrest. The son, a 33-year old teacher tried to defend her mother was arrested too.

While we do not condone any violent acts or statements at this period of national emergency, we plea for understanding and human compassion for our colleagues. Apparently, the old lady may be desperate, perhaps not for herself or her family but for other people in her community. What she did was a response of a person who cares for her neighbors, albeit in a manner that may be contrary to our existing laws.

We call on the honorable mayor of General Santos City and the city police as well as the Department of Justice to be more understanding and exercise human compassion. We stand by the earlier pronouncement of Hon. Menardo Guevarra, the good secretary of justice that “During abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion.” And we believe that this applies also to an ordinary classroom teacher and not just to a sitting senator, they are both humans, after all.

May this incident also serve as a reminder to our leaders, especially to our local government units to expedite the delivery of assistance to their respective jurisdictions. An open communication system with the communities would also help so as not to develop unrest among the local population.

Lastly, we call on our colleagues in the teaching profession and in the general public to exercise prudence and sobriety amidst this crisis. # March 28, 2020
(Photo courtesy of Rappler)

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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.

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