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update: 1.8.2020: Online Bullying in the Philippines: A New Twist

Suggested Readings :


How To Handle: Right To Free Speech, Trolls And Bashing
Why Anonymous Communication Can Be A Bad Internet Right 
What to do When Cyber Bullied


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On 1948, the United Nations (UN) declared that we have 30 basic human rights, created to provide a global understanding of how we’re supposed to treat each other
This, I believe, should be the anchor of our behaviour both offline and online.  For your perusal, I am publishing the simplified version of the 30 basic human rights, according to

  • Article 1: We are all free and equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
  • Article 2: Don’t discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
  • Article 3: The right to life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety
  • Article 4: No slavery – past and present. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
  • Article 5: No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
  • Article 6: We all have the same right to use the law. I am a person just like you!
  • Article 7: We are all protected by the law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
  • Article 8: Fair treatment by fair courts. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
  • Article 9: No unfair detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without a good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
  • Article 10:  The right to trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
  • Article 11: Innocent until proven guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
  • Article 12: The right to privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters or bother us or our family without a good reason.
  • Article 13: Freedom to move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
  • Article 14: The right to asylum. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
  • Article 15: The right to a nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
  • Article 16: Marriage and family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
  • Article 17: Your own things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
  • Article 18: Freedom of thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
  • Article 19: Free to say what you want. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
  • Article 20: Meet where you like. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
  • Article 21: The right to democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
  • Article 22: The right to social security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and child care, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
  • Article 23: Workers’ rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
  • Article 24: The right to play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
  • Article 25: A bed and some food. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
  • Article 26: The right to education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.
  • Article 27: Culture and copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that “art,” science and learning bring.
  • Article 28: A free and fair world. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
  • Article 29: Our responsibilities. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
  • Article 30: Nobody can take away these rights and freedoms from us.


Why Free Speech “Can” Violate A Human Right


Read: Blogging, Free Speech and Online Libel


Case #1:


The photo of the manager of KFC NLEX branch has been going around and the comments from the women are shockingly more…
Posted  on Arpee Lazaro on Sunday, April 19, 2015

Back story:
Someone snapped a photo of Christopher Sengseng, while at work at KFC NLEX, and posted the same on Facebook

This became viral as the photo was shared multiple times and blogs were written about Christopher Sengseng. As of this writing, some news outfits reported this story. However, his personal life became the collateral damage because pictures of his wife and son were downloaded, altered and shared without permission.
Points to ponder
In our present democratic space, taking pictures in public spaces is not necessarily illegal.
Asking permission from people who will be photographed is left to the discretion of the public. Some people believed, though, that those who “are not” public figures (politicians, athletes, entertainers and media persons) deserve some courtesy if they will be the subject of photos.
When minors are involve, like the use, alteration and sharing of photos, may have infringed not only the copyright and the right of the child to privacy, but also against possible exploitation and abuse, per Presidential Decree 603.
My friend Arpee Lazaro, was able to interview the wife of Christopher Sengseng, and she has this to say:

Nung una okay lang. Kaso ngayon parang biglang natakot ako. Hehe. Iba na kasi panahon ngayon  may nangyari kasi before. Nung naka public pa fb namin. Ginrab nila ung pics ng husband and baby ko. Then inedit nla. Anak daw nla anak ko. Natakot kami nun. Kasi alam din nila saan kmi. Kaya pinrivate na nmin ngayon…

This is an example where free speech (article 19) let to the infringing of the human right of a family to privacy (article 12),  and the epic failure to protect and uphold another persons human rights (article 29).

Case #2

Back story:
Excerpt from the youtube channel

Ayon sa mga saksi, Nag-ugat ang kumosyong iyon ng bumili ng ticket ang isang Dennis Celestial sa Cashier noon ng ticket para sa movie ng SM San Lazaro na si Aldin Barral, ang binibili n’yang ticket for two ay para sa movie na “Day of the mummy”, ilang sandali pa’y napansin na lamang ni Dennis ang kanyang Ticket na kidkulafu ang nakalagay, agad na bumalik ito kay Aldin at nagreklamo….
Lumipas ang ilang minuto nagreklamo na pala sa Admin sa SM San Lazaro si Dennis, kinuwento n’ya sa namamahala ang kanyang naging experienced sa tila daw incompetent na trabaho ng binata, agad namang pinatawag si Dennis na kinakabahan at naging emosyunal narin matapos s’yang pagsigaw-sigawan nito, naisip n’yang i-record ang kanilang paghaharap gamit ang kanyang cellphone na sinabit n’ya sa kanyang leeg….

As of this writing, the video is making rounds on social web, but news outfits have yet to report the story.
Points to ponder
Though its obvious that both parties have crossed the line, we are not privy to the real score. Thus, its best to limit the discussion on the recording and uploading of the video. I am certain SM Cinema management is already attending to the problem.
Is this a case of cyber justice? Maybe, maybe not. If we are able get answers to the questions below, we can be certain.

  • Is the recording premeditated? An incident captured in videos can help in the administration of justice. But in case of cyberbaiting, this becomes a harassment tool.
  • What’s the purpose?
  • Who has more to lose in the battle of public opinion? I guess the answer is quite obvious.

If only people will be mindful of article 29 of the universal declaration of human rights, then maybe an error on judgement will be less costly.
On the corporate side, case #2 is a good example why companies should heed my advice to have not only  an internet and social media policy in place, but include cyber wellness program in employee development program. In this way, employees will be aware of social web’s best practices and the consequences, good or bad, to both  online behaviour and the contents being shared directly or indirectly.

The Common Dilemma

A few weeks back, I attended  the Rights Convention South East Asia.

free speech abuse

RightsCon South East Asia

Having handled digital parenting sessions for parents, I’m aware of their concerns about the safety of their kids and their suggestions on how to prevent cyber abuses. So I asked the experts what they think about it  and if these will fall under the ambit of best practices.  It turned out, advocates have these common dilemma-  “protecting free speech at the same time, upholding the rights of those affected by excesses”; “protecting the right to privacy but not giving the bad elements the cover for their illegal activities”
In a separate conversation with an activist, he said the solution to the abuse of free speech is not less speech, but more speech until the truth comes out… the community should be the one to set the standards on what behaviour is not acceptable, not the government.
I believe the solution given above is “ideal” for a mature community. But in Philippine context, a good spin can twist facts and form public opinion that is far from truth and reality. Therefore, the damage being done will continue and maybe irreversible, before the truth will come out, if ever it’ll come out.
To put my argument in perspective, I’m not talking about people who chose to be public figures,  like politicians and entertainers. They chose that path, therefore, they should be ready with public scrutiny, invasion of privacy and an avalanche of public opinion. Instead, I’m talking about the the protection of the human rights of ordinary people from the abuses that may arise from free speech.

What can be done?

I don’t think the government should not take a hands off policy on the problem. However, the approach should not curtail free speech, instead, ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to also uphold the rights of the aggrieved party, and make retribution available. People should not be prevented from talking, however, people should also see the importance of putting their face and pockets to where there mouth is. In this case, we will inculcate a culture of accountability.
Both the private and public sector should synergize their strategies to educate the public of human rights and how these can be applied to day to day living.
Furthermore, the discussion about human rights need not be in political tone because it turns-off most people. Instead of highfalutin statements, a practical illustration of how these rights are applied at work, school, at home can make people appreciate and respectful of human rights- theirs and other peoples’.

Free speech and expression should be safe guarded, but it must also be used responsibly. Your thoughts?


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