AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People denounces another wave of attacks against alternative media, mass organizations and environmental defenders. On June 6 and June 8, 2022, the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), respectively, ordered the blocking of several websites, including those from alternative media and legal mass organizations.
The order to block websites of several organizations is deemed an attack on land rights and environmental defenders. Several organizations, including BAYAN, Pamalakaya, Amihan, UMA, Save Our Schools Network, and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, have been at the forefront of fighting for the democratic rights of the people, especially the marginalized ones, including peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples. They’ve been campaigning for genuine agrarian reform and the defense of the West Philippine Sea against Chinese incursions. They’ve opposed massive reclamation projects, foreign-owned large-scale mining, and other neoliberal policies and programs in agriculture and fisheries. Additionally, alternative media organizations, such as Bulatlat, Arkibong Bayan, and Pinoy Weekly, have been helping people’s organizations in amplifying their voices on the aforementioned issues, especially when mainstream media do not report such issues. Recently, these alternative media organizations have covered the massive illegal arrests of farmers and peasant advocates in Hacienda Tinang, Tarlac as well as the illegal and violent arrest of anti-dam activist Daisy Macapanpan.
Amid a worsening environmental, political and economic crises, the role of people’s organizations as watchdogs is crucial in assuring that the state is not amiss to its duties and responsibilities to the people. This has been stipulated in our Constitution, specifically in the Bill of Rights, Article III, Section 4, stating that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”. In a supposedly functioning democratic country, the voices of the opposition and the marginalized must be heard, not repressed. As the looming Marcos-Duterte administration comes close, more attacks against environmental defenders and alternative media are expected. We call on everyone to remain vigilant and continue defending our democracy against those who attempt to deny it. #