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Court rejects Bulatlat.com's plea to unblock access to website; trial to proceed

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Court rejects Bulatlat.com's plea to unblock access to website; trial to proceed
Bulatlat managing editor Ronalyn Olea and lawyers Minnie Lopez and Floyd Tiongson of the National Union of People's Lawyers speak to media in front of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on July 8, 2022.
Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City court rejected the request of independent news site Bulatlat to issue a temporary stop order against the National Telecommunications Commission’s implementation of a memorandum blocking access to their website.

Bulatlat.com reported that the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 306 "denied the temporary restraining order prayed by online alternative news Bulatlat, following the order of the National Telecommunications Commission to block Bulatlat and 26 other websites over alleged terror links."

"The NTC memo has caused irreparable damage to our constitutional rights since our website remains inaccessible to significant segments of our audiences," it added.

A copy of the court order has yet to be made public as of this story's publication.

Lawyer Minnni Lopez told reporters the TRO was denied "because accessible naman daw ang website." Philstar.com, however, cannot access the website on mobile and laptop using PLDT Wifi.

"Parties were required to file Memorandum three days from today. Hearing reset to August 2, at 1:30 p.m.," Lopez added.

Esperon's request

Bulatlat.com ran to the court to stop the NTC from enforcing its memorandum, following the request of former National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to block access to more than 20 websites for being “affiliated to and are supporting terrorists.”

But Esperon’s list also included progressive groups and even independent news sites that have long been subjected to red-tagging.

Under the ATA and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, designation only triggers the power of the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets of the listed groups. During oral arguments, government lawyers reiterated this before Supreme Court justices and the DOJ affirmed this position on Wednesday.

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