SC, UN expert discuss freedom of expression issues

SC, UN expert discuss freedom of expression issues

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) and the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan met on Wednesday to discuss the importance of the Philippine Judiciary’s role in upholding the rule of law in cases involving free speech.

“We fully appreciate that the special rapporteur understands that there is always a balance between expression and security,” Senior Associate Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen said in a statement on Thursday.

“We have also in some of our cases already acknowledged that there may be differences in the regulation of hate speech and also performative speech from declaratory speech,” he added.

Ms. Khan is in the country for a 10-day visit that will take her to meetings with state officials, civil society groups, and human rights experts to discuss current policies and efforts to uphold the freedom of expression.

She met with Philippine Justice officials on Wednesday where they discussed the effective enforcement of laws and prosecution to safeguard members of the media.

The High Court justices also updated the UN official on the government’s implementation of Office of the Judiciary Marshals, which will manage a body that will ensure the protection of members of the Judiciary and court personnel from attacks.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Paul M. Gutierrez said the government and members of civil society need to work on ensuring a free and open civic space to allow transparency and accountability.

“The government remains steadfast in its efforts to foster an environment where anyone can freely express their opinion without fear,” he said during the country’s task force on media security welcome dinner for Ms. Khan on Tuesday.