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People unhappy with COVID response free to criticize â Duterte
“I govern properly and right. If it makes you happy, then you smile. If not, you criticize me,” Duterte said in a televised public address last Friday.
Alber Alcain/Presidential Photo

People unhappy with COVID response free to criticize – Duterte

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — People who are not satisfied with the government’s handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are free to use the internet to express their views, President Duterte said.

“I govern properly and right. If it makes you happy, then you smile. If not, you criticize me,” Duterte said in a televised public address last Friday. 

“Walang pigil, social media, lahat kayo (No one is preventing you from using social media. All of you),” he added. 

Some sectors have expressed concern that the Bayanihan Act’s provisions on fake news would be used to suppress views critical of the government.

Under the Bayanihan Act, which provides Duterte additional powers to combat COVID-19, individuals or groups creating, perpetrating, or spreading false information on the pandemic that are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion may be imprisoned for two months or slapped with a fine ranging from P10,000 to P1 million or both. 

Rights lawyer Chel Diokno has accused the National Bureau of Investigation of going after citizens who merely expressed their sentiments on the way the government responded to the COVID-19 crisis. The NBI has confirmed issuing more than a dozen subpoenas but clarified that it does not focus on social media comments but on factual errors or the “malicious intent” to spread false news. Officials have also given assurances that the law won’t be used to silence critics of the government. 

COVID-19 DUTERTE
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