The International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) strongly condemns the censorship by the Philippine’s Duterte government against over 20 independent media and people’s organizations websites.
Using the draconian Anti-Terrorism Law, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the National Security Commission (NSC) ordered to block the websites of media outlets, people’s organizations and religious groups for allegedly “supporting terrorist and terrorist organizations.” For Indigenous Peoples groups and communities, in many times, these alternative media sites have been the only platform that air their stories.
Included in the wanton “censorship and media control” is the website of Save Our Schools Network and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, a network of advocates for Indigenous Peoples and church-based civil society groups working for Indigenous Peoples’ right to education and land. With these most recent attacks, Indigenous Peoples voices are further silenced with fewer platforms echoing their plight and struggles, and in return, lesser sources of information that critically highlights issues faced by marginalized groups.
Among other sites that have been blocked are independent news platforms Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, as well as Pamalakaya Pilipinas, Amihan, and BAYAN.
A deadly record on rights and freedoms
Such repression and silencing threatens to put the plight of Indigenous peoples, rights defenders, activists and even journalists, in the dark. Especially alarming is that these attacks on rights and freedoms occur in the deadliest country for land and environmental defenders with a deteriorating human rights situation, thriving fake news and disinformation problem, and dangerous climate for journalists.
Similarly, under the Duterte regime, notorious terrorist-tagging, or red-tagging, has been used in guise of national security to violate people’s rights. International human rights laws, including the rights to freedom of expression and information, life, liberty, and security, have all been flagrantly disregarded by red-tagging. Worse, critics and dissenters maligned with tags and labels are often harassed or killed.
Filipino Indigenous Peoples’ utilization of online spaces provides the needed space to air dissent or report corporate or state-sponsored atrocities against various Indigenous communities. The Tumandok Massacre, bombings in Lumad communities in Mindanao, the Bloody Sunday Massacre, and other stories were vastly disseminated through the internet effectively documenting reports, raising awareness and solidarity in the widest reach possible.
Indigenous Peoples, advocates and supporters must condemn these worsening attacks on free speech, basic freedoms, life and security brazenly committed by the state. We call on for solidarity to stand with the Indigenous Peoples and the Filipinos as they fight repression in the last days of the Duterte government, and as the new Marcos-Duterte regime comes in. With a united movement that resists and fightback, both online and offline, we can overcome fascist onslaughts and the evils that plague our freedom and democracy.#
Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator