Computer Professionals Decry: Remove Martial Law!


May 27, 2017


We, computer professionals, users and advocates represented by  the Computer Professionals’ Union, strongly reject Martial Law, especially recent reports that social media users will be censored under martial rule.


In a media interview on the evening of May 26, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla spoke that the military will “cover social media” in their plans to “ exercise the right to censure” as they implement President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. He was further quoted as saying that users who post content on social media deemed “makakasama” and “hindi makakatulong” (unhelpful) might find themselves being arrested.[i]


We strongly condemn such statements and moves, which are tantamount to violations to our universally guaranteed right to freedom of expression. Those who lived through Martial Law from 1972 to 1981 can recall the state of censorship under the regime where any form of dissent was silenced, free press was shut down, and public gatherings and assemblies were grounds for arrest.


While government officials assure us that Duterte’s Martial Law  is far from Marcosian, statements from military brass such as Padilla reveal otherwise.  In the same media interview, Padilla outlined that  censorship shall be exercised for “other national security considerations.”  This ambiguous statement will open up internet and social media users, even those hundreds of miles from Mindanao, to unwarranted surveillance and arbitrary arrests on unclearly defined grounds.


We cannot allow emboldened military forces under a questionably justified military rule to intrude into our cyber space and police our each and every statement, comment, and post.


We urge freedom-loving Filipinos, who make up the social media capital of the world, to join us in condemning Martial Law. While we denounce the terrorist Maute group and its allies who sow terror among the citizens of Mindanao and destabilize the Duterte administration, we urge President Duterte to reconsider his Martial Law declaration and instead rely on all the tools and authorities at its disposal to go after this threat without impinging on the rights of freedom-loving Filipinos.##