Activists criticise shrinking freedom of expression in the Philippines

In marking President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s 100th day in office, Filipino activists held a protest near the presidential palace in Manila. 

They criticised the government’s proposed 2023 budget, which reduced funding for several social service programs and allocated more money to defense agencies and foreign debt payments.

Human rights groups also decried the shrinking civic space for freedom of expression as they urged the government to reverse the repressive policies of former President Rodrigo Duterte. 

A statement from The Movement Against Tyranny (MAT)  summed up the decline of human rights under the new government: ‘We are disturbed by the shrinking civic space for freedom of expression. Over the past two weeks, we saw the cold-blooded murder of a radio broadcaster, the signing into law of the mandatory SIM card registration which could become a tool for mass surveillance, the brief detention of two labour advocates over trumped-up charges, and now the court rejection of the appeal by Ressa and Santos Jr. over their cyber libel conviction’.