Junk the NTC blocking order vs websites: #UnblockTheTruth
June 15, 2023

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court will restart hearings on Bulatlat’s petition seeking to nullify the blocking order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) today, June 15.

We see the reopening of the trial proceedings as an important step toward redressing the NTC order’s flagrant infringement of the right to free expression and information.

It has been over a year after the NTC issued an order blocking access to the websites of alternative news outfits Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, and Arkibong Bayan, as well as 25 other sites. The alternative media community remains steadfast in its call to junk the blocking order as it brazenly restricts press freedom and constitutes an overreach that impedes the people’s right to know.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 306 already ordered the NTC to stop blocking Bulatlat’s website in August last year. This verdict underscored the importance of preserving a free and open internet and the public’s right to information. Despite unblocking Bulatlat, however, the NTC order remains in effect.

We urge the court to carefully consider Bulatlat’s arguments in their petition and to junk the NTC order once and for all. The assailed order, which was based on the request of former National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., supposedly hinges on provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act. We believe that the Anti-Terrorism Council’s labeling of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as “terrorist” groups should not be used to stifle dissent and critical media. The 1987 Constitution already included safeguards against such orders that violated freedom of expression, press, and information. We ask that the Court faithfully carry out its mandate and be guided by the highest law of the land.

The Philippine government should not utilize website blocking – or any other type of press freedom infringement – to stifle dissent and silence critical voices. Democracy necessitates that everyone has access to the rule of law, human rights, and free communication and discussion. We call on the court to take a step in the right direction and take action to establish an environment in which independent media can grow without limitation or intervention. #

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