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NTC orders websites ‘affiliated with, supporting terrorist organizations’ blocked

/ 09:53 AM June 22, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered internet service providers to block several websites, including independent media, “found to be affiliated to and are supporting terrorist and terrorist organizations.”

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The order, dated June 8, was signed by NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba upon the request of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. A copy of the order and Esperon’s request was shared to the media Wednesday.

“With reference to the Letter dated 06 June 2022 from the National Security Council, you are hereby directed to effect the immediate blocking of the reported websites found to be affiliated to and are supporting terrorists and terrorist organizations,” Cordoba said in the order.

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In a letter addressed to Cordoba, dated June 6, Esperon requested the NTC to order internet service providers in the country to block access to 26 websites “affiliated to and are supporting” designated terrorists and terrorist groups Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Among the websites, Esperon requests to be blocked are the website of the NDFP and CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.

The list also includes websites of progressive groups and independent media such as Bulatlat.

“They have established a pervasive online presence through their websites that they continually use to publish propaganda and misinformation campaigns in order to malign the Philippine government, recruit new members, and to solicit funds from local and international sources,” Esperon said in his letter to Cordoba.

“In this regard, may we request the NTC to issue legal instruments to order Philippine internet service providers to block access to the following websites affiliated to and are supporting these terrorist and terrorist organizations,” he added.

‘Affiliates’

The list also includes websites of progressive groups and independent media such as Bulatlat, which said that the move “sets a dangerous precedent for independent journalism in the Philippines.”

Regarding the order, Department of Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay cited Republic Act No. 11479, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, and its implementing rules and regulations.

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Sugay cited Rule 6.4 on the effects of designation which dwells on the authority of the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets of individuals, groups of persons, organizations, or associations designated as terrorists.

Asked if the effects of designation is the blocking of websites and whether this extends to “affiliates,” Sugay said: “These questions, in my opinion, should be directed to the National Security Council.”

The request, Sugay said, emanated from the NTC and not the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC). The Secretary of Justice is a member of the ATC, tasked to designate terrorist individuals, groups of persons, organizations, and associations.

“Please note that the request in question emanated not from the Anti-Terrorism Council but from the National Security Council,” Sugay said.

Sugay added that if “anybody should feel aggrieved by any perceived improper use or application of any provisions of the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act), including the provisions in designation, there are remedies under the law and judicial recourse is always available.”

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TAGS: CPP-NPA-NDFP, Jose Maria Sison, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, National Security Council, National Telecommunications Commission
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