Section 9 of the Terror Bill makes speeches, writings, artwork, and other similar materials that “incite acts of terrorism” punishable by law. The vague and broad definition of terrorism coupled with this provision allows the administration to imprison citizens for 12 years just for exercising their right of free speech.
If you’ve ever posted (or even shared) an #OustDuterte post or any critical or dissenting opinion/ post about the government, even in jest, you can be detained without warrant and sent to jail.
Kabataan Partylist also flags the continued attacks on the freedom of the press, especially in a dark time of repression, silencing, and intimidation through the fascist Duterte administration, and impending legislation that legitimizes authoritarian and martial rule in the middle of a pandemic.
We denounce the politically-motivated shutdown of ABS-CBN and Manila RTC’s guilty verdict over Rappler CEO and Executive Director Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos because of trumped-up cyber libel charges weaponized against critics of the government. We remember the times when the they were arrested and Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s license last January 11, 2019, as well as Malacañang’s move to forbid Rappler reporter Pia Rañada to enter the palace.
Clearly, the press is and continues to be under attack. Media practitioners and alternative media continue to be attacked in all fronts, from arrests and hate speech to cyber-attacks on websites and online platforms. There is an ongoing crackdown on media, priests, farmers, the youth – the dissenters and whistleblowers of Duterte’s regime, which continues to deprive the people of its basic rights, who has broken historic records of unemployment and price inflation, who say them with words while keeping prices of goods high, their mouths hungry. Media practitioners are under attack in the regime’s desperation to keep an illusion of goodness, despite the seeping truth trying hard to be covered by a wall of fake news.
We also denounce the continuous attacks on the members of the alternative press, where, for the past years and months, virtual attacks have been launched against progressive news outlets like Bulatlat, PinoyWeekly, and Kodao. This has caused multiple site crashes which have hindered the flow of alternative media. Duterte and his ilk has red-tagged these sites, as well as the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, in order to maliciously invalidate features, stories, and narratives critical to the regime. Moreover, a certain senatorial candidate from the administration’s slate, who was a former journalist, said that the media and the press in our country remains safe. This remark is gross disrespect and insult to the challenges and sacrifices that his former colleagues have faced especially under the administration.
There is a clear orchestration of attacks against critics, advocates of peace, and even innocent civilians. Thus, we call on every media practitioner to denounce every manifestation of violations of civil liberties and attacks on our democratic values, especially attacks on the press.
The youth resounds the calls to defend press freedom and uphold the truth. A government that operates on lies and deception is afraid of the truth. It silences critics like Maria Ressa. It defunds campus publications and represses freedom of expression in schools. It discourages students from participating in immersions for they might learn the real conditions of the country. But the truth is mighty and it shall prevail. The people deserve the truth and they deserve it to be told to them. We must defend our freedom to speak the truth at all costs, and wield them to hold power to account.
We expect that violations of these constitutionally guaranteed rights will further embolden state forces to perpetrate fear, violence and terror upon the people, most especially that the Anti-Terrorism is nearing its passage or lapsing into a law. We call for the end to the disinformation and red-tagging campaigns of the government and its armed forces endangers the life of our countrymen and undermine the people’s legitimate calls for their democratic rights.
The youth, as the “pag-asa ng bayan,” continue to be the hope of the nation, and pledge to be the bearers of truth and the defenders of basic human rights, education, food, and dignity, against the state’s continued attacks on media practitioners, truth exposers and the people.