#FactsFirstPH, an initiative comprising of more than 100 groups in the Philippines, pushes back against efforts to take down and disrupt news websites

Below is the statement of #FactsFirstPH following the cyber attacks against websites of activist groups, alternative media, and mainstream media. #FactsFirstPH is a first-of-a-kind initiative banding together the media, coalitions, civil society groups, business organizations, and research and legal groups. It aims to debunk dubious claims online, make facts spread faster and further than hate and lies, flag disinformation narratives and actors, and hold online perpetrators accountable. Know more about the initiative here.

As the country moves closer to the May elections, there is a greater need for reliable and vetted information to help the public make their decisions on the ballot and in their daily lives.

Dozens of news organizations, civil society groups and members of the academe have pledged to work together to help provide that and to address the waves of disinformation that have battered our democracy.

Unfortunately, these efforts have been met with a corresponding increase in attempts to take down and disrupt news websites. 

Attacks that took down websites of activist groups and of the alternative media have spread to those of the mainstream media, with ABS-CBN News, Altermidya, CNN Philippines, GMA News, ONE News, Rappler, and VERA Files being hit and overwhelmed despite their security measures.

In some cases, content has been deleted from the sites and, in others, attacks have affected the ability of newsrooms to post content.

Whoever is behind these attacks should be exposed and made accountable. These are clearly attacks against telecommunications and other related assets, deemed as critical infrastructures so vital to the Republic of the Philippines that their incapacity would have a detrimental impact on national security and the people. The message is clear. We, the journalists, are being targeted to forbid and disempower us from doing our work.

It is in this light that we stand together to call on the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the cybercrime units of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate these systematic and persistent attacks and to find and hold the perpetrators accountable.

These attacks not only violate the right of the journalists to freedom of the press but the rights of Filipinos to freedom of speech and expression and their right to know.

We urge other newsrooms who have experienced similar attacks to join us in this call and the public that we serve to help sound the alarm over these attacks. If we stay silent over online attacks against us, it may be too late for us to protest when these translate offline.

    • Active Vista Center
    • Altermidya
    • Amateur Media Association of Philippine Scouts
    • Archers Network
    • Baguio Chronicle
    • BlogWatch
    • Council for People’s Development and Governance
    • Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center
    • CvSU Journalism Guild
    • DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
    • Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice)
    • FEU Central Student Organization
    • Human Rights Online Philippines
    • In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend)
    • Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
    • Kapatid–Families & Friends of Political Prisoners
    • Karapatan
    • Kilos ng para sa Kabuhayan, Kalusugan at Karapatan, K4
    • Kontra Daya
    • LILAK Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights
    • Mindanao Gold Star Daily
    • Movement Against Disinformation Philippines (MAD)
    • Now You Know PH
    • PressONE.ph
    • The Martial Law Chronicles Project (MLCP)
    • VoteReportPH

– Rappler.com