The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Saturday urged the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) to review its order to pull out and stop the publication of five books, including future publications that allegedly contain political, subversive, and creative works bearing subliminal ideologies, and deemed as anti-government.
“We encourage the KWF to study this policy through consultations with relevant stakeholders, as well as to go into a further inquiry on the contents of the said publications,” the CHR said in a statement.
CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia said the CHR “continues to stress that upholding one right should not come at the expense of other rights.”
“A safe and secure country is possible without possible infringements to rights to freedom of expression and speech. Caution must also be exercised in interpreting the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, especially if it may already be overreaching, and results in possible violation of rights rather than protecting them,” De Guia said.
The KWF has ordered to pullout and stop the publication of the five books contents of which it said may violate Section 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act on inciting to commit terrorism, the CHR said.
The publications KWF sought to be banned included Tawid Diwa sa Pananagisag by Bienvenido Lumbera; Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979 by Dexter Cayanes; Teatro Political Dos by Malou Jacob; Kalatas: Mga Kuwentong Bayan at Kuwentong Buhay by Rommel Rodriguez; May Hadlang ang Umaga by Don Pagusara; and Labas: Mga Palabas ng Sentro by Reuel Aguila.
The CHR said the KWF published the works of Jacob, Rodriguez, and Pagusara. The work of Aguila was launched by KWF in 2021 as part of a showcase on how the Filipino language may be used for creative and intellectual work. The research of Cayanes was published in 2010 and studies on the works of national artist Bienvenido Lumbera.
“Under a democracy, there is value in allowing these publications to be publicly available so they may be discussed and even challenged openly if necessary. A safe and secure country is where people are also free to express their thoughts in its many possible forms without fear of harm and intimidation. At the same time, we also recognize that freedom of speech and expression are not absolute and should never be used as cover to violate laws,” the CHR chief said. Maricel V. Cruz