Bayan Muna: Controlling social media under terror law is like ‘cyber martial law’
Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat on Tuesday slammed the new Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay for stating that the government could use the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to regulate social media.
“Expanding the reach of an already vague law to cover people’s social media activities would only end up in a martial law in cyberspace,” Gaite said.
The Makabayan lawmaker said: “Clearly this is what the government aims as they see the potency of online collective action. Voices of protests resonated online even at a time when protests in the streets have been severely restricted through a militaristic lockdown.”
“Hashtags, online statements, petitions, artworks, etc. have sustained the momentum of dissent and have been crucial in pushing for needed shifts in policies such as we have seen in the call for mass testing, provision of adequate personal protective equipment for health workers, and financial and food aid for the poor, amongst others,” Gaite said.
He said Gapay was “targeting online activism.” “We should not let him get his way.”
Gaite made the statement after Gapay expressed his desire to include provisions in the implementing rules and regulations of the controversial anti-terrorism law that will regulate the usage of social media.
“Gapay’s proposal to expand further the already vague and absurdly expansive provisions of the terror law through this IRR provision would cast a fine meshed net against democratic dissent. No one would be safe from state terror and abuse if this gets through,” Gaite said.
Cullamat also assailed the proposal as an attack on the freedom of speech.
“Pambihira! Malinaw na ang nais ni heneral ay patahimikin ang mamamayang Pilipino sa social media, nais nilang takutin kahit iyong mga nagsasabi lang ng kanilang mga opinyon, ng pagkadismaya at kritisismo sa pamahalaan. Iyan naman ang gusto nila, ang magdalawang-isip sa pagsasalita ang taumbayan dahil sa takot sa pwedeng gawin ng mga abusadong awtoridad,” she said.
“Sa katunayan yung masasamang elemento na naglalagi sa Facebook ay hindi mga terorista, kundi mga ahente ng pamahalaan, mga trolls na pinopondohan nila, na nanghaharass, nananakot, at nagbabanta ng kung anu-anong kapahamakan sa mga kritiko ni Duterte,” she said.