/ 23 June 2022

THE CONGRESS of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy condemned the blocking of several websites of the independent press and progressive groups, calling such action a blatant attack on free speech, academic freedom and critical thinking.

The group denounced the National Security Council and the National Telecommunications Commission rulings which insinuated that the banned websites were “affiliated to and are supporting” the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front without presenting proof of such allegations except for flawed Anti-Terrorism Council resolutions that do not mention the  websites being proscribed.

“By blocking the websites of alternative media platforms like Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly and activist groups like BAYAN, UMA Pilipinas, AMIHAN, Save Our Schools, and Pamalakaya, the Philippine government is in effect suppressing access by the public to news and information produced by alternative media on the marginalized and oppressed,” Prof. Jose Monfred Sy, the group’s vice chairperson, said.

“What’s worse, this unjustified internet censorship will affect serious scholarship of academics, students and researchers who need to be exposed to a wide range of ideas in the course of their teaching and research work,” Sy added.

The banned websites  include the Monthly Review Press, a Scopus-listed academic journal and book publisher that highlights progressive views and scholarship. The Monthly Review Press is the publisher of the international edition of nationalist historian Renato Constantino’s book, The Philippines: A Past Revisited (1975), and nationalist economist Alejandro Lichauco’s seminal work, The Lichauco Paper: Imperialism in the Philippines (1973).

“The NTC decision underscores the dangers of the Anti-Terror Law, as a fascist instrument of the state, for repressing the truth or any form of independent thinking that threatens the vested interests of those in power. The use of the Anti-Terror Law, to pursue  flimsy and groundless red-tagging and terrorist-labelling, now becomes the basis for silencing dissent and scholarship and further constricting the space for free expression and academic freedom in the Philippines,” Sy said.

“We demand the NTC and the NSC to end this madness and immediately rescind the ban on websites of alternative media, international academic publishers, and activist groups. We call on the academic community and the Filipino people to stand for the defense of free speech and academic freedom and pushback against censorship and other fascist attacks on human rights and democracy,” he added.