Joint statement on
Marawi, martial law and internet freedom
By CPU, TXTPOWER and AGHAM
June 15, 2017
After Camp Aguinaldo
spokesman Colonel Edward Arevalo warned that the military would
exercise an alleged “right to censure”, DICT Head Rodolfo Salalima has
announced arrests for “cyber sedition”.
It must be clear by now:
Whether you’re in Marawi, Mindanao or Manila, we’re all unsafe from
martial law’s effects on our basic rights. And nowhere is this more
obvious than the internet and the basic rights we enjoy online and
These threats by the
military and DICT don’t strike fear at the heart of terrorists. They
dampen civic engagement and attempt to negate the public’s right and
duty to see to it that martial law is required, that martial law is
actually aimed at the terrorists, and that martial law is not being
implemented against the public.
We warn the military and the
DICT not to overstep their bounds. Censorship, whether prior restraint
or subsequent punishment, does not help combat terrorists. We urge the
military to revisit their claim of a “right to censure”. It is an
invention, with no legal provenance or constitutional basis.
We also warn against network
shutdowns under martial law. Network shutdowns in Mindanao are
unacceptable. It would isolate and disconnect Mindanao from the rest
of the country and the world. Mindanaoans should not be silenced. It
would be bad for business, commerce, education, governance and other
aspects of our daily lives.
The dress rehearsals for
turning off our internet have started many years back. In the name of
counter-terrorism, the police, the military and the government have
taken down mobile and internet access in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and
other parts of the country.
All the shutdowns have been
applied for and granted in an questionable manner, without hearing and
without assessment. It is not farfetched that the government would use
this if the “online noise” of widespread criticism becomes intolerable
If there’s any event and
place where the public would understand a network shutdown, it is this
incident and Marawi City from the very start. Based on "practice",
shutting down all communications there would deprive the terrorists
any means to communicate among themselves and the outside world. It is
now a virtual ghost town, with most of its 200,000 inhabitants already
transformed into evacuees.
But this appears to be
impossible. Because it would affect the military operations,
coordination between the Commander-in-Chief in Manila and the ground
forces in Marawi and media reportage that has been so kind to the
We urge citizens and
organizations to be vigilant and jealous of the rights we enjoy,
offline or online, against any arrogant overreach by the military and
government. They have a track record of abuse, and have also made
threats of doing under martial law.
Let’s keep the Philippines'
and the internet free.