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LODI asks Robredo to stop ‘disinformation’ surrounding drug war

An alliance of artists and journalists asked newly-appointed Interagency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chairperson, Vice President Leni Robredo, to include among her top priorities stopping and investigating “what is clearly a policy of disinformation, misinformation and information manipulation surrounding the government’s drug war.”

In a statement, the Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) asked Robredo to seek disclosures to many pressing questions on the drug war, particularly the unsolved deaths of tens of thousands of victims.

The group asked Robredo the following:

1. Who are the country’s biggest druglords, and the status of investigations or prosecutions against them, if any? Who are the officials protecting or providing them with lenient, special treatment?
2. What information does the ICAD member-agencies have regarding the entry of illegal drugs from abroad, and what steps they have taken to stop them?
3. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions against former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon in connection with the disappearance of billions worth of shabu, against “ninja cops” led by former Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde, and other top officials, and those who gifted three convicted Chinese drug lords with early release?
4. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions into the “narco lists” publicized by the president?
5. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions into every case of extrajudicial killing or deaths in the hands of the police?
6. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions into policemen identified as perpetrators of extrajudicial killings?
7. Who are the other convicted top drug lords freed under BuCor Directors Bato dela Rosa and Faeldon?
8. Where are the lists and actual inventories of shabu and illegal drugs seized by police in their operations?
9. Which private drug testing companies are involved in the many drug testing activities of government, the amount of taxpayer funds provided to them, and the status of all private/personal medical information in the possession?

“The answers to these and many other questions are important in assessing the conduct of the so-called drug war. Agencies and officials of government are duty-bound to provide the answers to taxpayers and all citizens,” LODI said.

The group also asked Robredo to press ICAD member-agencies to be open to public feedback and criticism and to invite in her capacity as ICAD co-chair United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs “so they could do their work, provide government and the public an independent view, and make their recommendations.”

In November 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to slap UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard should she decide to push through with her investigations on the drug war.

 Speaking to overseas Filipino workers in Vietnam, Duterte said, “Kaya sabi ko kay Callamard, kung imbestigahan mo ako, sampalin kita. “ (That’s why I told Callamard, if you investigate me, I’ll slap you.)

Meanwhile, Robredo presided over her first ICAD briefing on Friday, reminding law enforcement agencies to reconsider current drug war strategies to prevent “senseless killings.”

Robredo said the new anti-illegal drug campaign should target the drug problem, not “our people.”

 “Maybe it’s time to think about a new campaign with something more effective, where no one dies senselessly,” Robredo told attending officials in the briefing.

Earlier, Robredo promised that “[t]he anti-drug campaign will continue with the same vigor, intensity.”

“What we will change is the manner by which it is implemented,” Robredo added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

All about accountability

A lot has been said and written, even a poem romanticizing rape, on the sexual assault that allegedly happened at the Iligan National Writers Workshop a few weeks ago.

Rape is an abominable crime. The victim, in our damaged society, often suffer blame for “encouraging” the act as well as the excruciating stigma of being dubbed “damaged goods.”

That a victim bravely made public such an assault took a lot of courage, lending great credence to her claim. Such fact must not be perfunctorily dismissed, as is clearly the case immediately following the complainant’s publication of her ordeal.

Instead of assuring it will investigate and promising justice if the complaint is found to be true, it appears that the workshop organizers and their defenders took to professing their personal literary and even moral credentials in a vain attempt to shield themselves from accountability for an incident that should never have happened under their watch. They likewise politicized the issue, hinting that this is less about sexual assault but more an attack on their political principal widely known for misogynist acts and statements.

What the organizers cannot deny, however, is that a workshop fellow raised a complaint about sexual assault, with a workshop panelist as the perpetrator, and with the incident happening right at the official residence of the workshop fellows and panelists. That the organizers refused or failed to immediately start a formal investigation or to formally inform the police of the incident betray a terrible lack of awareness and also an inability or refusal to make the workshop a safe space for participants.

Worse, it is deplorable to see respected authors and poets clearly rushing to protect the accused sexual predator, totally ignoring the power dynamics between speakers and mentors and their younger fellows. After the accused admitted to taking advantage of a situation, we did not see from the workshop organizers’ a condemnation of his predatory act and an admission of their failure to prevent such from happening. If only for the latter, they must be held accountable.

Their even more preposterous argument would have us believe that the accused and the organizers must not be judged on the case at hand but on their past good deeds, on a very subjective scale benefitting a small group of people. That latter position, taken to its logical conclusion, would forgive administrators of institutions providing charitable aid to vulnerable sectors for abuses heaped on the very people they claim to serve. That stand reflects the sycophantic nature of our politics and many of our institutions, where the bottomline is patronage and largesse dispensed and received.

Such unfortunate sense of entitlement must not be allowed to infect arts and culture.

Again, accountability, akin to criticism, is sacrosanct to people. It must be as well to artists who have great power over how society thinks and acts. The reported sexual assault in Iligan must be investigated and, if found true, punished, not excused. #

Steering Committee
Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity
Aug. 10, 2019

Freedom-loving Filipinos defy Duterte — LODI

We are free because we choose to be free.

The results of the recent SWS survey are a testimony to Filipinos’ love for freedom and their defiance of the regime’s attempts to impose full-scale tyranny.

The oft-peddled claim of massive support for the President’s most oppressive policies crumbles amid the clear findings of the SWS survey: Those who report or express views critical of Duterte face safety issues. Yet those who believe they face clear danger refuse to crumble.

Filipinos will not surrender to any tyrant the freedom to think and express these thoughts, and to act accordingly.

We continue to defy the regime’s tyrannical obsession to silence or crush Filipinos’ free expression and press freedom: The harassment cases against Rappler; the DDOS attacks on alternative news websites; the threat to deny ABS-CBN a franchise renewal; the mobilization of hateful and disinformation-spreading troll armies; the conspiracy theories from Red October to the matrix; the Red-tagging and open threats against independent-minded and critical journalists, artists, and cultural workers; the filing of sedition, libel and other charges meant to intimidate or suppress freedom of expression and public participation; and the unremitting killings of journalists.

We journalists, artists and citizens alike must continue to ask questions and to express our democratic demand for accountability. The president has skirted many important questions from his health to the full details of his agreements with China and the likes of the Marcoses. He has refused to enact a Freedom of Information Law. He has refused to disclose the illegal acts of cabinet members, and top civilian and military officials he fired purportedly for corruption. He and his minions deny the public full disclosure on their designs for charter change.

We reiterate: Filipinos continue to exercise their rights by asking questions, expressing themselves and taking direct action. Because that’s what a freedom-loving people do in the face of a rising tyrant allergic of transparency and the breakdown of institutions supposedly holding him accountable.

There’s a saying that’s truly relevant today and applicable to Duterte: Duterte can fool all the people some of the time, and some people all of the time. But he cannot fool all the people all the time. #

Freedom of expression in the time of Duterte

Over three years ago, the nation has been promised: change is coming. And change did come, but things took a turn for the worse.

As the nation marks President Rodrigo Duterte’s third year in power, we look back in sheer dismay over the unprecedented attacks perpetrated primarily by the state, with the apparent goal of shrinking the space for free expression in the country.

Once Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016, the dome of impunity has widened and enveloped practically the whole of the archipelago. What was once considered rare and infrequent news on police-instigated killings, massacres, and haranguing of communities speedily became frequent staples in the news. Aside from the drug war, dozens of massacres, killings, and arbitrary arrests have been committed at a rate only comparable to the dark years of the Marcos era. With the rampant human rights violations, wittingly or unwittingly, the victims have become mere statistics, losing their names and identities to the dark powers-that-be.

Even freedom of expression is in peril. Merely voicing out concern and reporting on the aggravating human rights situation in the country puts one at risk. The attacks were sustained and targeted all fronts: from the red-tagging of activists and organizations, to the harassment and even killing of journalists. The string of cases against Rappler, for instance, shows how this administration wields its entire machinery to hide the truth in its bloody “war on drugs.” Based on the report released by the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network, from June 30, 2016 to April 30, 2019, a total of 128 cases of threats and attacks against the media have been documented, 60 of which were directly perpetrated by state agents. These incidents range from intimidation, including red-tagging, visits by police teams to the offices of media agencies, to the association of independent media organizations to supposed ouster plots.

No one was spared – from incarcerating vocal critic Sen. Leila de Lima, to attacking the church and even international organizations, Duterte stopped at nothing to make his perceived enemies fall, mincing no words, except in certain instances, like in issues concerning China. Remember how the state practically booted out Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian nun who have worked for decades among the poor and the marginalized just for voicing out her concerns and joining a fact-finding mission? And what about the perjury charges filed by the military against human rights defenders from Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Gabriela?

Remember how, just recently, veteran journalist Margarita Valle has been nabbed for unknown reasons, only to be released eventually, with the state saying it was just a case of mistaken identity?

Even artists are being criminalized. Two artists — Alvin Fortaliza of Bohol, and Clydie Sabate of Negros Occidental, have been arrested and detained on trumped-up charges. And who could not forget the military’s red tagging of filmmakers who produced socially relevant works?

The attacks were unrelenting. From the “Red October” plot to the egregious “Oust Duterte matrix,” clearly the administration is not on a “wait and see” mode but rather on an active frenzy. Recently, the police filed sedition, cyber libel and other criminal charges against Vice President Leni Robredo and 35 other individuals, including lawyers and Church people, over the Bikoy narcotics video series. Their goal: mass intimidation. They are deploying all weapons in their arsenal to police even the opinions of the public: from the employment of a massive “troll army” and other forms of astroturfing or the attempt to bloat supposed public support for policies, resulting in an era where genuine reports and fake news are difficult to tell apart; the ramped-up surveillance of perceived critics of the administration; to imposing martial law in Mindanao, and similar thinly-veiled military efforts in provinces in Visayas and Luzon.

Even the Internet is no longer a safe space. Remember how easy it was for state agents to relentlessly conduct “distributed denial of service” or DDoS attacks against the alternative media, shutting down their websites at critical moments when reports on attacks against the marginalized and underrepresented were published. International observers dub these attacks as one of the worst cyber-attacks they have seen across the globe in recent history.

The Duterte administration has even tapped draconian laws such as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 to file cases such as cyberlibel against its critics. With Duterte allies now controlling both houses of Congress, soon, the reviled Human Security Act is also set to be amended to give stronger powers to state agents to tag practically anyone and everyone as terrorists, with little to no effort.

Most of these schemes and turn of events aimed at mass intimidation employ the same tactic: preemptive vilification – discrediting those who dare critique policies, pronouncements, and actions of the government even before these critics open their mouths or type their statements. In a nutshell, the last three years drastically shrunk the space for free expression.

Just as state agents are not sparing any moment to practically trample on any and every form of dissent, we must also not wait as our basic civil liberties are being pressed for space. At this juncture, we must realize the importance of the freedom of expression: losing this right opens the floodgates to the violation of other civil, political, and economic rights. Freedom of expression serves as a safeguard for the people to enjoy other freedoms. Without free expression, we can lose all our other important rights in an instant.

It is easy to allow fear to set in and shut our lips and eyes to the worsening state of our nation. But once we do that, will it alleviate the situation? No, it will only continue festering.

To allow the state and its agents to pillage on the right to free expression is tantamount to surrendering hard-earned victories of our people in the past decades. We cannot simply allow the looming shadow of dictatorship to easily slip back. We must decisively unite and fight back.

We need to reclaim the real meaning of change, of how that potent word opens a world of possibilities. Despite the relentless attacks on our basic civil liberties, we need to remember that real change is a force that makes us question everything. Change is what we aspire when we innovate, when we invent, when we create. Change sparks genius, and ignites the fire that seeks to melt and recast the status quo.

To change is to reaffirm the value of militancy, of seeing the potency of collective action. Genuine change requires united action. From artists to journalists to the common people, we need all the force we can muster to fight back. There is no moment to spare. We need to reclaim every inch of space for our civil rights. We need to fight back now. #

Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI)

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

Concerned Artists of the Philippines

Altermidya

No to legal attacks on freedom of expression and public participation

CAP condemns perjury, sedition charges vs. colleagues

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) condemns the successive filing of legal charges against human rights advocates and opposition members, which includes in their respondents members of the artist community.

This week alone has seen the filing of two complaints, which threaten not only the respondents but the very essence of freedom of expression and public participation itself.

First, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. filed perjury charges against human rights groups who asked for a protection order against government harassment. These are KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which earlier petitioned for a writ of amparo and habeas data following the killings, vilification, and harassment against their members. Second is the “inciting to sedition” charge initiated by the PNP and the DOJ against a diverse line-up of 36 opposition figures starting with the Vice-President, on the pretext of being responsible for the spread of the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos.

Included in the former is Kiri Dalena, a filmmaker, visual artist, and human rights advocate whose work has bravely reflected on the state’s perpetuation of human rights violations. Included in the latter is Joel Saracho, a veteran actor, writer and convener of the media and arts alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI).

We are outraged over how artists are facing these absurd charges of perjury and inciting to sedition. We view such legal attacks as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), which are lawsuits filed in retaliation for speaking out on a public issue and intending to burden, censor, intimidate, and silence critics into abandoning their criticism or opposition. While the Palace denies any hand in these charges, it can not deny that these incidents are rising as more people are expected to take to the streets in the United People’s SONA on July 22.

We condemn these assaults on our colleagues in the art and culture sector, who have tirelessly dedicated their craft, consciousness, and practice towards being artists for democracy, nationalism, and justice. We denounce the continuing red-tagging of our colleagues, our organizations, our films and the institutions that screen these.

We condemn how citizens at the forefront of protecting human rights are viciously attacked and targeted. These include human rights defenders Christina Palabay and Edith Burgos, wife of late press freedom icon Jose Burgos and mother of desaparecido Jonas Burgos, whose lifelong struggle for justice has been referenced across artworks to films.

We must not let such legal harassment pass. Already, artists and cultural workers are among 509 political prisoners in the Philippines today. These include Alvin Fortaliza, arrested on March 4, 2019 in Guindulman, Bohol and falsely charged with two counts of murder. Fortaliza is the Artistic Director of the Bol-anong Artista nga may Diwang Dagohoy (Bansiwag Bohol) Bohol Cultural Network which stages theater performances and conducts theater workshops for youth groups and was a volunteer provincial coordinator for Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Partylist in Bohol.

Artists, cultural, knowledge and media workers will fight back: with our voices, our art, and our presence in the parliament of the streets on July 22 at the United People’s SONA.

LODI statement on the PNP-DOJ sedition charges

Media and arts alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) views the sedition charges being instigated by the PNP and DOJ against opposition and Church figures, lawyers and artists as harassment and a cheap attempt to clamp down on dissent.

It seems this is less about the “Bikoy videos”, but more a continuation of the now-discredited “matrix” and Red October yarns. They want a new “chismis” to drive a wedge in the broad opposition ahead of the United People’s SONA.

The list of accused appear to be clumsily and haphazardly drawn up, without regard to evidence to back up the inclusion of those so named there.

There is no reason to believe a flip-flopping witness and police officials whose main moves, whether in the matter of extrajudicial killings or other rights abuses, have been geared to protect an abusive government from accountability.

Instead of filing trumped up charges against the opposition, the government should prosecute all policemen implicated in extrajudicial killings, planting of evidence, and other crimes. It should also file charges against corrupt officials, and enforce the ruling on such personalities like Imelda Marcos. It should stop using the DOJ as a tool for suppression.

The objective here, as what has been done in other cases, is to confuse, corrupt and crush every one who dares to stand up against Duterte. #

Groups vow to go after Mocha despite resignation

Groups welcomed Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson’s resignation this morning, saying the controversial official’s departure is “long overdue”.

Media and arts alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) said it gladly welcomes Uson’s departure as a victory against disinformation.

“[Her resignation] proves disinformation is not forever. Napupuno din ang salop,” LODI said in a statement hours after Uson announced at the Senate committee on finance her resignation.

LODI said Uson had actually been “shown the door, because [President Rodrigo] Duterte knows she is an albatross as an assistant secretary.”

Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Zarate for his part said that Uson’s resignation is long overdue.

“Government service, while it is about trust, is also about accountability. That is what is sorely lacking from her.  She’s an enabler of impunity, be it for fake news or tokhang killings or killings and displacements of the lumads, and many more,” Zarate said in a statement.

After absenting herself from several congressional hearings for PCOO’s 2019 budget, Uson finally attended the Senate hearing Wednesday morning and announced her resignation.

“Every year, I am told to ignore some lawmakers so that they won’t hold the PCOO budget hostage. It angers me, but that is the present system. It is rotten, but we have to go with it,” Uson told the Senate in Filipino.

“Because of that, I am making the sacrifice so that the PCOO budget would pass. I have decided to resign,” she added.

But Uson vowed to continue confronting her enemies, saying her resignation is not the end.

PCOO budget deliberations had been suspended several times by the House of Representatives which demanded a personal appearance by Uson to explain her controversial and “offensive videos produced and distributed using government resources.”

Uson and blogger Drew Oliver uploaded videos showing sexually-explicit dances moves to advocate for a federal form of government as well as hand gestures that offended hearing-impaired citizens.

Since her appointment to the PCOO, Uson continuously faced widespread condemnation as well as congressional inquiries about her so-called fake news posts.

Uson had been one of Duterte’s loudest supporters on social media in the 2016 presidential elections.

“This is a victory for Filipinos fed up with her brand of ‘advocacy’ in support of the corrupt and tyrannical [government],” LODI said of Uson’s resignation.

LODI thanked ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, whose demand for Uson to appear in Congress led to her resignation and dismissal.

LODI said it intends to hold Uson accountable for her acts of graft and corruption as an assistant secretary.

“She will be made to pay for her crimes, regardless of her future plans. She is not legally and politically immune from accountability,” the group vowed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PCOO: Mocha under jurisdiction of President

It seems only President Rodrigo Duterte can do something about Mocha Uson.

Officials of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) revealed at its budget hearing at the House of Representatives Thursday that, as a political appointee, only the President can decide on whether controversial Assistant Secretary on Social Media Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson official stays or goes.

“[Assistant Secretary] Uson falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Office of the President as a political appointee,” PCOO Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Marvin Gatpayat said.

At the hearing, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Ysagani Zarate pressed PCOO Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar on what has been done over Uson’s many gaffes and posts that drew widespread criticism.

Asked by Andanar to reply to the question, PCOO Assistant Secretary for Operations and Legislative Affairs Ana Maria Paz Banaag said that Uson had been issued a memorandum by PCOO New Media and External Affairs Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy to remind her of rules and policies for government officials.

“A small fact-finding activity was also held,” Banaag said.

Uson again drew widespread criticism of the Presidential Communications Group for her video endorsement of Duterte’s federalism campaign with a blogger that referred to vagina and breasts.

Banaag said that the PCOO officials and employees shall soon undergo gender-sensitivity trainings in response to the frenzy of criticisms it received from Uson’s video.

Questions about Uson drew the greatest interest among those who attended the budget hearing, eliciting laughter from even PCOO officials and staff present.

Arts and media alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) submitted to the committee a letter questioning the PCOO’s proposed PhP1.41 billion budget for 2019.

“Taxpayers bear the burden of paying for the PCOO’s work, whether it is done, not done, or not done well by the agency,” LODI explained.

The group asked if Uson and blogger Drew Olivar’s controversial video was taken inside the PCOO offices and of government personnel and facilities were used in filming, editing and uploading the video.

Explaining the official’s absence during the hearing to personally answer questions pertaining to her, Andanar said Uson is accompanying President Rodrigo Duterte in his official visits to Israel and Jordan.

Andanar made a quick exit and did not answer questions from journalists after the hearing. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LODI denounces killing of Albay journo: Under Duterte, one journalist is slain every two months

The media and arts alliance LODI (Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity) condemns the murder of Albay broadcaster Joey Llana in Daraga town today.

Reports reaching LODI say that unidentified persons waylaid the 38-year old broadcaster’s vehicle on P6 road, Brgy. Penafrancia around 4:00. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead by emergency rescue staff around 6:00 am.

LODI demands a swift and transparent investigation into this latest murder of a journalist, the 12th under President Duterte.

Since assuming power, Duterte has practically presided over the killing of a journalist once every two months.

In between killings, Duterte orders harassment cases, closures, delays in franchise renewals, verbal attacks, and denial of access to journalists in Malacañang and Mindanao.

LODI also deplores the Philippine Army, for blocking Mindanao journalists from covering the evacuation of more than 1,000 Lumad in Brgy Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The military claims its blockades are for the evacuees security. Journalists are not security threats. Their presence and their documentation of conflict-related incidents actually promote protection for civilians trapped or dislocated by war.

The pending anti-terrorism measure pushed by Duterte allies in Congress also directly attacks press freedom and free expression by considering coverage of dissenters and rebels as crimes.

Journalists serve the community best if they are free to present the many voices in society, including those involved in civil or armed conflict. To equate coverage with “glorification” is to nothing but censorship at the level of tyranny.

The bill also allows the freezing of funds without giving “suspects” a chance to challenge charges. This provision represents a possible weapon to paralize critical media.

We call on the Filipino people to campaign for a halt to killings of media workers — and all citizens. We also invite our fellow citizens to fight efforts to legislate dictatorship.

This fight should also target Duterte’s planned charter change that would leave professional and citizen journalists to the mercy of a small cabal with powers to legislate and execute policies and, likewise, act as judges.

We will bring the calls for justice for Llana and other slain journalists at the United People’s SONA on Monday. Duterte must be held accountable for his failure to protect them, and more accurately for inciting or justifying violence against them. #

Group assails FB for taking down accounts critical of Duterte

An arts and media group has slammed social media platform Facebook for taking down accounts of Duterte critics Mae “Juana Change” Paner and the popular Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB) creator Jover Laurio.

The Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), itself critical of attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression under the Rodrigo Duterte government, today assailed Facebook for the move against Paner and Laurio, two well-known critics of President Duterte.

“We demand that Facebook immediately and unconditionally restore Mae’s account,” veteran journalist and LODI convenor Inday Espina Varona said.

Mae’s takedown followed a similar action last week against Jover, LODI in a statement said.

It took two days of “bombardment” by Laurio and many supporters to restore her account.

“We call on Facebook to stop being complicit in the silencing of President Duterte’s critics,” Varona said.

She noted that Mae’s posts in the last few days have been largely on #BabaeAko , a campaign against President Rodrigo Duterte’s misogyny.

“This is not the first time Facebook has taken down accounts of activists and politically-involved Filipinos, and Facebook Pages maintained by activist organizations and campaigns. Facebook has also been censoring content, as we saw in the taking down of posts critical of the Marcoses,” Varona said.

“Facebook recently announced that it would take steps to combat the proliferation of Fake News. But what has been more pronounced, as in the case of Mae and the others, is that it is wittingly or unwittingly helping silence voices exposing and fighting Fake News,” she added.

Facebook’s ‘dangerous’ Real Name policy

Another LODI convenor, newspaper columnist Tonyo Cruz, in the statement said that the implementation of Facebook’s Real Name policy is apparently doing more harm than good especially in the Philippines.

“Many activists and campaigners in other countries ruled by dictatorships have long asked Facebook not to deny citizens the right to use pseudonyms which prove important in protecting dissenters,” said Cruz.

“I didn’t expect that we’d need it in 2018, but there sure are legitimate reasons for many Filipinos to use pseudonyms amid Duterte’s rising tyranny,” Cruz added.

Cruz said the application of the Real Name policy on Paner could not have been a result of due diligence or even the most basic investigations.

“A simple Google search about Mae Paner would lead Facebook officers and staff to plenty of stories, images and videos about her, including links to her Facebook account,” Cruz said.

Cruz added that Facebook should also check reports that the takedowns of the accounts of Mae and Laurio are a result of “mass reporting” by Duterte supporters.

“If this is true, Facebook should take steps against those who game its reporting system. There are lots of accounts that spread Fake News and hate speech that should be taken down. Accounts of activists should be spared and protected,” Cruz said.

Paner is among LODI’s co-founders and co-convenors. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)