MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday said websites tagged as affiliates or supporters of terrorist organizations which are set to be blocked by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) may exhaust legal remedies to reconsider the action.

Acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made this remark after several groups condemned NTC’s order to block websites tagged as affiliates or supporters of terror organizations.

“Legal remedies are available to any party, including online media outfit Bulatlat, affected by this action,” Andanar said in a press statement.

He also stressed the NTC’s move to block certain websites is upon the request of the National Security Council (NSC) in performance of its mandate.

In a letter dated June 6, National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon requested the NTC to order internet service providers in the country to block access to 26 websites “affiliated to and are supporting” designated terrorists and terrorist groups Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Esperon further said the CPP-NPA-NDFP “have established a pervasive online presence through their websites that they continually use to publish propaganda and misinformation campaigns in order to malign the Philippine government, recruit new members, and to solicit funds from local and international sources.”

“In this regard, may we request the NTC to issue legal instruments to order Philippine ISPs to block access to the following websites affiliated to and are supporting these terrorist and terrorist organizations,” Esperon said.

The list includes the websites related to the NDFP and CPP and its leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

It also includes websites of progressive groups and independent media such as Bulatlat, which said that the move “sets a dangerous precedent for independent journalism in the Philippines.”

Long arm of justice

Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, a former CPP-NPA-NDF cadre, hailed Esperon’s request to block websites related to the communist terrorist groups (CTGs).

“Finally, the long arm of justice is now slowly being felt by the evil organizations being run and financed and operated by CPP-NPA-NDF in their so-called urban infiltration operations,” Celiz said in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency.

He said the move is due to the consistent and focused efforts by the NSC under Esperon’s leadership.

Celiz added that state authorities should always be strict and firm in dealing with the CTG colluders and conspirators.

“The operational environment must always be made difficult to survive for all those forces that aim to overthrow our government and exploit our legal and democratic processes,” Celiz said.

Celiz, together with the national organization of former rebels dubbed Sentrong Alyansa Ng Mga Mamamayan Para Sa Bayan (Sambayanan) also launched the same call through an online petition via change.org.

The petition https://www.change.org/p/sovereign-petition-of-the-filipino-people specifically calls on concerned authorities to take down and perpetually ban The Philippine Revolution Web Central https://cpp.ph, the website of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) https://ndf.org, and other websites that continuously provide timely news and information, including statements from the CPP and allied organizations of the NDFP.

In June 2021, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) approved a resolution designating the NDFP as a terror group.

The designation of the NDFP came six months after the government declared the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations.

The National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has maintained that the terror tag on the NDFP was long overdue.

The NSC is the principal advisory body on the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security.

It consists of two distinct bodies namely the Council Proper and the National Security Council Secretariat.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)