The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines rejects new Armed Forces chief Lt Gen Gilbert Gapay’s ill-conceived proposal to include the regulation of social media in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Proposals like this are the perfect reason why the Supreme Court should declare unconstitutional what should more aptly be called the Terror Law.
What the good general seeks is no less than the death of freedom of expression.
Social media has given so many once voiceless Filipinos a platform to openly air their views on matters of public interest. Yet it is not inconceivable that a president who abhors criticism and dissent to the point that well-intentioned pleas are interpreted as calls for “revolution” would consider this an existential threat.
We do not dispute the need to fight terrorism. But how, we ask, does stifling people’s rights and liberties achieve that goal?
As the oft-quoted but nevertheless true saying goes: “You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.” The same goes with free speech. You can silence a man but you can’t silence an idea.
The only way to defeat an idea is with better ideas. To try forcing one out of existence amounts to terrorism and, more often than not, can only beget more terrorism.
Besides, aren’t we supposed to be a democracy, and is not one of the cornerstones of democracy the marketplace of ideas?
For this to happen, we need MORE, NOT LESS, freedom.