No due process in NTC’s order to block access to red-tagged sites, says lawyer
MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) violated its own rules of procedure when it failed to observe due process in blocking access to red-tagged websites, a former national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said Monday.
Former IBP president Domingo Cayosa said that the NTC should have given organizations the opportunity to respond to and oppose the request filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to restrict access to their websites due to their supposed links to communist organizations.
“Malinaw naman sa 2006 rules of procedure ng NTC na kailangan dumadaan yan sa due process, yun bang kung merong nagre-request o nagko-complain tungkol sa isang website gaya nung ginawa ni Secretary Esperon, — request letter lang yon — ang dapat na ginawa ng NTC eh binigyan ng pagkakataon, sinabihan yung mga nakalista doon at binigyan sila ng pagkakataon na sumagot o i-oppose yung request,” Cayosa said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
(It is evident in the 2006 rules of procedure of the NTC that there should be due process, such that if there would be any requests or complaints just as what Secretary Esperon had done did — that’s only a request letter — the NTC should have given these websites due opportunity to respond or oppose that request.)
“Tsaka lang sila magre-release ng desisyon o kautusan. Ang nangyari ho kasi within two days from— letter request lang ito ha—eh biglang nag-order silang i-block immediately yung mga website. So na-violate po yung mga rules nila at wala pong due process,” he added.
(It should only have been at that point when they should have released their ruling or order. What happened was that within two days — this is only a request letter — they already ordered to block the websites immediately so that their own rules on due process had not been observed.)
Cayosa further said the request should have been backed by evidence, and must be decided and analyzed by the NTC as a quasi-judicial body.
He cited Rule 12, Section 1 of NTC’s rule and procedures which states that “all orders, resolutions, or decisions shall be signed by the majority of commissioners.”
The NTC has three commissioners, however, only Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba signed the memorandum to restrict access to red-tagged websites, Cayosa noted.
“Tatlo ang commissioner, isa lang ang pumirma doon sa order na kwestiyonable,” Cayosa pointed out.
(The NTC has three commissioners, but only one signed the questionable order.) — Xander Dave Ceballos, INQUIRER.net trainee
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