Lorenzana backs blocking of sites linked to 'terrorist' groups

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) — Outgoing Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana defended the order blocking websites tagged as affiliated to "terrorist organizations," saying this is to combat disinformation against the government.

Lorenzana said he is "in agreement" with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon's decision urging the National Telecommunications Commission to block several websites critical to the administration — a move widely condemned by media groups and human rights watchdogs as an attack on the freedom of the press and of expression.

READ: NTC orders block to access of websites of CPP-NPA, alternative media, progressive groups

Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, and other independent news sites were included in a list of those tagged as being "affiliated to and are supporting" the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Other progressive groups included in the list are Save our Schools Network, UMA Pilipinas, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, and Pamalakaya Pilipinas.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and international human rights watchdogs criticized the order, arguing the government did not present any evidence to back its claims.

The order highlights threats posed by the Anti-Terrorism Law on freedom of expression and of the press, the NUJP added.

However, Lorenzana stressed they are "not against free speech".

"[I]n fact we encourage and protect it. It is disinformation against the government that we are against," he said.

With the order, Lorenzana believes the spread of disinformation will be reduced.

"[This will] prevent the recruitment of more youths. They are so gullible and susceptible to propaganda and disinformation," he added.