My activist friends and I have seen Mocha Uson several times in the last four months. Last I saw her, she was in the Kampuhan of the national minorities in UP Diliman, where she listened to the life stories of our marginalized brothers and sisters and learned from them. She has extended her assistance through use of her popularity in helping government agencies get their programs across to the people. She asked for no payment, only the joy of being there and helping out. And for that, I laud her and appreciate her efforts. That is not to say I agree with all her comments and posts on her blog. But that’s beside the point.
The point is this stupid petition going around in Facebook demanding that her FB page be shut down because of her controversial posts (the rightness or wrongness of these posts, I will let the reader decide).
I do not know who initiated this petition on Change.org, but I vehemently disagree with this move. If you believe a person is saying stupid things, or is wrong, or is lost in her line of thinking, then by all means lambast her, criticize her, debate her. If you find her posts irritating or offensive to your (sometimes not-so-common) common sense, then unfollow or block her. But to deprive her of her space on which to air out her views is to use heavy-handed, not to mention dictatorial, tactics that smell like rotten eggs.
We are always yammering about how we have the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution, yet to silence Mocha Uson by shutting down her blog is depriving her of that right. The people who started this petition, I am assuming, are well-educated and acquainted with the Philippine constitution. Where, may I ask, does it state in that document that you have the freedom to silence someone you happen to disagree with?
I may disagree with some of her views, but I stand by Mocha Uson’s–and our– right to free speech. By taking away her right to free speech through shutting down her page you are setting a dangerous precedent. Those with vested interests can also do that to all of us, should they dare choose. And we do not have Mocha’s four million followers to defend us should the need arise.
And after facebook pages and accounts, what’s next? Shutting down newspapers and television nd radio stations who are delivering news not to our liking? Then schools and universities because they are breeding grounds for dissenters and critical thinkers? Then churches and grassroots organizations because they are critical of some government policy?
That’s not how a democracy works, but that’s how a dictatorship does.