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Alangan namang aamin! Palace denies using coronavirus to stifle free speech

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By Prince Golez

Malacañang said there is “no truth” to UN Rights’ Chief Michelle Bachelet’s statement that the Philippines is using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to clamp down on free expression and tighten censorship.

The Philippines takes pride in protecting the universal rights and freedoms of all Filipinos, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“But there are circumstances – and we have said this on numerous occasions – wherein such freedom becomes subject to derogation. A form of derogation falls under the criminal clause in Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act,” Roque said in a statement released on Thursday.

“The unconscionable conduct by individuals or groups to create, perpetrate, or spread false information on the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms does not constitute a right or freedom, but a crime,” he added.

Also, the Palace official pointed out that the country’s legal system is “working, independent and functioning.”

“The Duterte Administration takes each case, be it a violation of the freedom of the press or of any other human rights, brought before its attention seriously and resolves each one within our domestic processes,” the former human rights lawyer said.

Meanwhile, Roque maintained that impunity has no place in the present government.

Law enforcers, he added, operate on “strict protocols” and hold the transgressors accountable.

“We remain steadfast in our pursuit of our obligations and commitments in the stewardship of the welfare and the human rights of our people. The consistent high approval ratings of the President, up to this time, affirm public support for his leadership,” the secretary concluded.

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