CPP-NPA-NDF AFFILIATES. An article published by Pinoy Weekly on its website on March 30, 2022, entitled “NPA at Masa, ‘di Matitinag” (NPA and masses, ‘unshakable’), promotes terrorism and violates the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said. He said this explains why Pinoy Weekly and Bulatlat are included in the list of websites affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front. (Screengrab from Pinoy Weekly website)

MANILA – News organizations Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly were among the websites listed and submitted by National Security Adviser (NSA) Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for blocking on the internet as they support and promote terrorism.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Esperon said upholding and promoting the truth is a national security responsibility imbued with public interests, especially in this digital age where most Filipinos get information through different social media platforms.

Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, which claimed to be advocates of truth and objectivity, in reality, Esperon said, promotes misinformation and even terrorism.

“Misinformation remains to be one of the nation’s greatest enemies; and is in fact a powerful tool used by the Communist Terrorist Group to sow enmity and discord—dividing the Filipino people and separating us from objectivity and the truth,” Esperon said.

“Though we recognize that websites like Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly have been using their platforms to spread information on causes important to them, we cannot simply turn a blind eye to the fact that they have actively supported organizations affiliated with the CPP-NPA-NDF,” he added.

Esperon said the decision to include the two news organizations in the list of websites affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) stemmed from the stories and articles published by the news sites.

He quoted an excerpt of an analysis published by Pinoy Weekly on Nov. 3, 2020, entitled “Limang katwiran ng armadong paglaban” (Five justifications of armed resistance) (https://pinoyweekly.org/2020/11/limang-katwiran-ng-armadong-paglaban/).

Esperon said the published analysis promotes armed struggle to radically change the society, which falls under Section 9 (definitions of terrorism) of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

He quoted another excerpt of an article from Pinoy Weekly entitled “NPA at Masa, ‘di Matitinag’” (NPA and masses, ‘unshakable’) (https://pinoyweekly.org/2022/03/npa-at-masa-di-matitinag/) published on March 30, 2022.

According to the article, “Sa huli, inatasan naman ng CPP ang NPA na palakasin ang pagrerekrut at pagsasanay ng libu-libo pang pulang mandirigma mula sa hanay ng mga kabataang magsasaka, mga manggagawa, intelektuwal, kababaihan at iba pang sector (At the end, the CPP instructed the NPA to strengthen the recruitment and training of thousands of more red fighters from the ranks of young peasants, workers, intellectuals, women and other sectors).

“Dapat lalong itaas ng hukbong bayan ang kakayahan sa gerilyang pakikidigma, ang pagsisikreto sa mga paraan nito ng paglalakad at pagkakampo, upang manatiling bulag at bingi ang kaaway at mapawalangsaysay ang mga bomba at makabagong kagamitan sa pagsasarbeylans at pambobomba,’ atas ng CPP (The people’s army must further increase its guerrilla warfare capabilities, the secrecy of its methods of walking and encampment, in order to keep the enemy blind and deaf and to dismantle bombs and modern surveillance and bombing equipment,’ the CPP ordered)”.

The quoted excerpt, Esperon said, falls under the ATA’s Section 10, or the Recruitment to and Membership in a Terrorist Organization.

The order for NTC to block the websites of CPP-NPA-NDF affiliates, including Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, seen by many as a blatant attack on free speech is, in fact, Esperon said, an act of protecting the integrity of the nation’s digital space.

He, however, clarified that the restriction to access the said websites does not mean that they are being restricted to engage in free speech.

“Simply put, these websites through the order of the NTC dated June 08, 2022, will not be accessible to users within the bounds of the country’s Internet Service Providers. Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, and other websites stated in our letter to NTC are free to continue publishing articles and editorial pieces that fit their messaging lines, but they will not be accessible to internet users in this country,” he said.

Esperon assured that the right to free speech remains protected, even under the Anti-Terrorism Act. However, he added that this right should be used responsibly.

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

The ATC also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)