Guevarra mum on NTC, NSA order to block terror websites

By Benjamin Pulta

June 23, 2022, 5:22 pm

MANILA – Incoming Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra has declined to air his position over the decision of government regulators to block websites of Communist terror groups (CTGs) and their affiliates.

"As this matter may reach the court, and the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) may be involved, it is prudent that I reserve my comment on the issue until then. Thank you for your understanding," Guevarra told newsmen seeking his comment on the matter.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) earlier acted favorably on a request made by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. for authorities to block the affiliated websites of Communist terror groups.

Guevarra will be replacing Solicitor General Jose Calida whose team successfully defended the validity of the controversial Anti-Terror Act of 2020 before the Supreme Court (SC).

Guevarra will be replaced by Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla who has been designated by President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos, Jr. as the next Justice secretary.

A spokesman at the DOJ on Wednesday said there are sufficient safeguard and recourse for parties and individuals who feel aggrieved by rulings of the Anti-Terror Council (ATC).

Replying to newsmen’s queries, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay said that “if anybody should feel aggrieved by any perceived improper use or application of any provisions of the ATA (Anti-Terror Act), including the provisions in designation, there are remedies under the law and judicial recourse is always available.”

Sugay cited rules implementing ATA which provides that assets of the designated terrorist individual, groups of persons, organization, or association under the Act shall be subject to government authority and that all designations shall not be dependent upon the pendency of any criminal proceeding against the proposed designee.

In a letter to National Telecommunications Commissioner Gamaliel Cordona last June 6, Esperon sought the agency’s action against 26 websites affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

The groups, Esperon said in his letter to the NTC, “have established pervasive online presence through their websites that they (CTG) 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.”

Esperon requested for the NTC to issue an order for Philippine internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the sites.

Last April 26, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the validity of Republic Act (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2022 except for two provisions of the law.

Such provisions are that qualifiers in Section 4 (defining terrorism) and in Section 25 (Designation of Terrorist Individual, Groups of Persons, Organizations or Association) of the anti-terror law or Republic Act No. 11479. (PNA)