September 15-30, 2021

The Digital Rights Roundup, published by the Foundation for Media Alternatives, contains regular updates on what Filipinos need to know about their digital rights.

Bill seeks to make SIM card registration mandatory

Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares has sponsored a measure, Senate Bill (SB) No. 2395 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act. If passed, the legislation will require all telecommunications companies make the registration of SIM cards a prerequisite to their sale. Unregistered SIM cards have been a feature of crimes such as terrorism, bank hacks and other forms of fraud. Read more here

Changes in Public Service Act hasten digital shift

Amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA) will help the country address the ever-increasing demands of the digital age and boost income levels needed in a post-pandemic world. The entry of more players in the telecommunication sector would boost the overall digital landscape in the country, especially with rapid global digitalization amid the pandemic. Read more here

PIDS backs telco ownership bill

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said policymakers should simplify the market entry process for broadband network builders. It added laws should be amended to lift the restrictions on broadband network building. The study identified the Radio Control Law and the Public Service Act as measures that require changes. Read more here

BSP says it will pursue digitalization push for post-Covid economy

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said it will continue promoting the digitalization of financial products and services. This will usher in a post-Covid-19 economy that is stronger, technologically advanced, and more inclusive than ever before. The BSP launched the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap for 2020-2023 last year. Read more here

Baguio shifts to digital governance

Egg-shaped devices attached to power lines will be bringing the internet to remote parts of Baguio during the coronavirus pandemic. Internet signals can ride through ordinary power cables straight to households. The innovation is part of the city’s ambitious government automation program that was launched on Friday. Read more here

NEDA steps up nat’l ID roll-out, aims to register 50M Pinoys by year-end

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it is accelerating the implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or the national ID program. PhilSys would also facilitate financial inclusion by providing every Filipino with a valid proof of identity. State-run Land Bank of the Philippines has onboarded 5.3 million unbanked PhilSys registrants for their own transaction accounts. Read more here

Senators seek records of 1,479 PCOO workers suspected to be trolls 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked the PCOO to provide records of its 1,479 contract employees on suspicion they are internet trolls. PCOO officials denied hiring trolls or running “troll farms,” but lawmakers want proof. Undersecretary Kris Ablan initially hesitated to disclose their records, citing legal implications. Read more here

PCOO to draft bill banning ‘troll farms’

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will draft a bill that would ban “troll farms” and penalize those who engage in such activities. PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said such a measure would be a “good idea”. Earlier, several senators questioned PCOO’s hiring of some 1,476 contract of service (COS) workers, whom Drilon insisted on calling ‘trolls’. Read more here

COVID-19 deniers, anti-vaccine protesters get ‘warning’ from PNP chief

The chief of the Philippine National Police on Sunday “warned” individuals and groups who defied health protocols. The Philippines has been under varying degrees of community quarantine since March 2020. The PNP chief’s statement comes after members of the group Gising Maharlika held a protest action in Manila. Read more here

DepEd ready for face-to-face classes in 120 schools 

The Department of Education is ready to resume face-to-face classes in at least 120 schools, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said Friday. At least 27.5 million students enrolled for the second straight school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, during which classes were held online and using printed learning materials. Read more here

PH ranks 1st in highest increase in women enrollees on Coursera

Online learning platform Coursera has released a study revealing an impressive increase in online learning participation among women learners. The Philippines ranked number 1 out of 190 countries for highest increase. World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 indicates that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in the Philippines. Read more here

DOH: Let COVID-infected folk vote online or by text

Voters infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) should not be allowed to vote in national and local elections, the Department of Health (DOH) has said. Such voters should be able to cast their votes through text message or other online channels, the agency suggested. Read more here

Reactivate thru e-mail, Comelec renews call on deactivated voters

Commission on Elections (Comelec) appealed to deactivated voters to renew their registration, exactly two weeks before the Sept. 30 registration deadline. Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon made the call to some 6 million voters who were deactivated due to failure to vote in two consecutive polls. Read more here

Pisay teacher in Ilocos probed over sexual misconduct allegations

A teacher at the Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus (PSHS-IRC) is being investigated after some of his students voiced out on social media his alleged sexual misconduct. The school’s management said a formal complaint was lodged against the teacher but did not disclose details about the alleged instances. Read more here

250 social media ‘influencers’ on BIR crosshairs

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has initiated an investigation of 250 influencers who may have earned millions of pesos and raked in freebies through their vlogs and social media posts. The BIR’s Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 97-2021 issued in August reminded these influencers that taxes are due for every peso they earned. Read more here

House OKs bill removing fee for telco use of Wi-Fi spectrum

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 22, unanimously approved on third and final reading House Bill 9851 or the proposed “Zero Spectrum User Fee for Telco Using Wi-Fi Act”. The bill seeks to address the “unjust” policy and regulation that levies spectrum User Fee (SUF) on telcos. Read more here

PH ranks 48th in global digital wellbeing study

A global study has ranked the Philippines in the 48th place among 110 countries based on a set of five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars. The Philippines showed strong results in Internet quality (20th) and e-security (30th). However, the country lagged behind in Internet affordability (72nd), e-infrastructure (63rd) and government (67th). Read more here

House approves 12% VAT on digital transactions

The House of Representatives has approved on final reading House Bill 7425, imposing a 12 percent value-added tax on digital transactions in the Philippines. The bill seeks to level the playing field between traditional and digital businesses. It also aims to generate revenues from new sources to fund the country’s efforts to recover from the adverse impact of COVID-19. Read more here

Highest gov’t body for cybersecurity confirms AFP link to cyberattacks – targeted sites

An IP address linked to cyberattacks against alternative media outlets and one human rights group is assigned to the Philippine army. The Computer Emergency Response Team – Philippines (CERT-PH) confirmed the finding. Targeted media sites Altermidya and Bulatlat reported the confirmation in a joint statement. Read more here.

McDonald’s Philippines warns customers vs fake delivery websites

McDonald’s Philippines warned customers on Monday against ordering from fraudulent websites. The checkout section of the fraudulent sites asks customers to enter their personal information, as well as their credit card details. McDonald’s said its only delivery website is As of this posting, the websites have yet to be taken down. Read more here

Borrowers warned anew vs. lending platforms’ abusive practices

Online money-lending platforms that use clients’ data for harassment or other forms of intimidation are still prevalent. The Data Privacy Act of 2012 protects and secures the privacy of every personal information in the communications system. In August 2021 alone, four online lending apps were taken down by the National Privacy Commission (NPC) due to excessive and illegal data mining. Read more here

Red flag for 2022: Political lies go unchecked on YouTube showbiz channels

One channel, which Rappler has fact-checked at least 41 times, started out with celebrity and entertainment updates then shifted towards political content. Since YouTube lacks a policy on disinformation, this practice puts people who seek entertainment on the platform at risk of being served political disinformation. Read more here

Marcos crowd swarms Angel Locsin’s Martial Law Instagram post

A Marcos crowd descended upon the Instagram post of actress Angel Locsin on Tuesday, September 21. Locsin posted a quote saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The actress ended her post with the hashtags “#NeverAgain #NeverForget #MarcosIsNotAhero”. Some showbiz industry-mates TV host Bianca Gonzalez-Intal and director Dan Villegas expressed their support for the post. Read more here

Historical clarification needed vs Marcoses’ revisionism: journ prof

Marcos should return ill-gotten wealth they accumulated under martial rule instead of trying to return to Malacañang, professor says. The dictator’s namesake son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, is eyeing to run in next year’s elections. His daughter Imee Marcos, meanwhile, won a Senate seat in 2019. Danilo Arao said “No amount of fake news would dispel the fact that journalists and activists were detained and killed during that time”. Read more here.

NTF-ELCAC ‘attacks’ Lacson in socmed post, then deletes it

The NTF-ELCAC quoted an alleged former cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) in a now-deleted Facebook post. The post was shared by the Western Visayas-based 3rd Infantry “Spearhead” Division (3ID) on its official Facebook account, which put them at the receiving end of criticism from a former general for supposedly being political. The 1987 Constitution states that no member of the military shall engage in any partisan political activity, except to vote. Red more here

Distance learning program gives rise to online cheating

Students have resorted to online cheating via a Facebook group where they share notes and test answers. The “Online Kopyahan” community had at one point more than 600,000 members, but after a local television report aired on Friday, the now-archived Facebook group was left with 571,900 members. Now, no one can create new posts, like, comment, or add more people and only members can see the group’s previous content. Read more here

Smartmatic’s tech support receives 10 errors during internet voting test run

Smartmatic recorded six credential concerns from overseas voters, and two error reports each on verification and device error. The technical support of electronic voting firm Smartmatic received 10 errors during the 48-hour internet voting test run. Comelec observed a 63.67 percent voter turnout using TIVI, higher than the 52-percent turnout using technology firm Voatz’s platform. Read more here.

High social media following won’t guarantee 2022 election win: analysts

Social media campaigns are gaining momentum as physical campaigning is expected to be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Candidates in the 2022 elections are expected to “stay in the social media space much longer,” political analyst Tony La Viña said. Having a strong social media presence, even during a pandemic, does not guarantee an election victory, said campaign strategist Gerardo Eusebio. Read more here


We are happy to announce that we will be launching our podcast, ANO’NG KONEK? soon! Stay within signal as we explore various socially-relevant issues affecting the digital rights of every Filipino. 

The Episode 0: Human Rights in a Digital World will be out soon! 

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The UP Internet Freedom Network (UP INTERNET) is an alliance of students and volunteers advocating for internet freedom. You may e-mail them at for inquiries.

DOWNLOAD: On the shift to digital governance, measure to control troll farms, and distance learning woes: The FMA Digital Rights Roundup (15-30 September 2021)

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Categories: Human Rights


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