Rejoinder to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya

Our first brilliant idea is to give Jonathan Malaya a refresher on reading comprehension. It was the Philippine National Police Cybercrime Division together with barangay officials that accommodated the malicious allegations of Joshua Molo’s former teachers and they were the ones that coerced him into filming an apology video repudiating his criticism of the government.

To claim that the government was never involved is ludicrous: it was the president who flaunted the policy of arresting anyone who dares to cause “trouble.” The president has long been attacking the media and journalists — and they have created a chilling effect threatening press freedom and free expression in the country.

Malaya must be delusional to assert that the government supports free speech when it was the president himself who signed the law granting him emergency powers to arbitrarily define and penalize “false information” which is now being used by the National Bureau of Investigation to issue subpoenas against people expressing their criticism online. He is not fooling anyone but himself in desperately trying to wash the government’s hands from a clear incident of State repression which has garnered significant public outrage.

Our second brilliant idea for Malaya is to listen to the people’s demands. Karapatan has long been supporting the four-point demand calling for the provision of adequate and just social amelioration for the poor and for those who lost their jobs because of lockdown measures, mass testing for affected communities and risk groups, the protection of frontline health workers, and an end to human rights violations under the lockdown.

The people have been urging these demands which have simply fallen on the brilliantly deaf ears of this inept government whose sole brilliant idea seems to be silencing critics and arresting the poor, amid a pandemic and human rights crisis. Karapatan will continue to stand against any attack on people’s rights and civil liberties along with the people’s demands for a rights-based, mass-oriented, scientific and comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.