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10 Ways Dissenters Can Protect Themselves

Netizens lined up as early as Monday night to get their frontrow tickets, when reports of unusual military activity in Metro Manila trickled in. Army trucks and even tanks were reported glitzing along EDSA, Coastal Road, and Marikina.

Tensions ran high in online circles as 3PM Tuesday closed in,  the time originally set for President Duterte to address the nation via a press conference. Unrest over a spiraling inflation rate and a Palace assertion of a destabilization plot had lead some to believe that a Martial Law proclamation would be headlining the show.

While the formal address by the President was cancelled at the last minute, and replaced with a showbiz-esque one-on-one with the pizzazz-loving Salvador Panelo,  the whole charade has left a bad taste in the mouth, and got some into thinking that there’s got to be serious drama unfolding behind all of this—and that it’s only a matter of time before the curtain breaks under the weight of its own absurdity.

Whatever reveal this drama makes, there are those who won’t clap.

Whether you’re a critic, big or small, of a wayward local official, hypocritical church leader, landgrabbing company, the President himself, or even the greedy management of the company you’re in, here are ten ways to help protect yourself while you speak your truth.

1. Scrub personal info found online

Remove your address, middle name, cellphone number, and even your birth date from the “About” section in your online accounts. These kinds of information can be used by identity thieves and lawless elements in attempts to harass you, hijack your accounts, and even create virtual impostors of yourself.

2. Secure your passwords

Don’t use the same password across multiple websites, change your passwords regularly, and always remember to log out of websites and devices when you’re finished using them.

3. Enable two factor-authentication

Add an extra layer of security to make sure you’re the only person who can access your account, even if someone malicious gets a hold of your password. Have a verification code texted to your cellphone when there’s a login attempt from an unrecognized device.

4. Don’t go out alone

“Go out during the day, or at night—as much as possible with a friend or someone who can witness your whereabouts / safety,” advised Jesus Falcis, a lawyer who co-heads a local radio program and runs an FB page critical of government abuse and corruption.

5. Let trusted people know your location

If it’s not possible to have someone with you, Falcis advises dissenters to “Inform your friends and families of your whereabouts all the time / as much as you can.”

6. Create organizational protocol

Dissenters may move as an individual or as a whole organization. In which case, Yael Toribio, the Chairperson of the University Student Council (USC) in UP Diliman, a known bastion of activism, offers guidance, “Have a protocol! May protocol and system kami now sa USC just in case. Who to report to, when to report, and what to report for whereabouts.”

7. Coordinate with other groups

“Coordinate with other dissenters too like what we are doing so alam namin ang action ng isa’t isa and if something goes wrong, alam more or less saan nagka-problem,” Toribio adds.

8. Have speed dials on set

Adrienne Onday, co-creator of Ligaya Komiks and a central figure in the #CardboardJustice campaign that went viral in 2016, recommends fellow on-ground activists to set speed dials on their phones, “First is a lawyer, second is your guardians or loved ones, third is anyone who can help witness for you.”

9. Have a printed list of your rights

“It would also be good to have an actual printed list of your rights with you just in case may sense pa ng laws and HR [human rights] ang mga authorities,” adds Addie, as friends fondly call her.

10. Appoint a legacy contact

“I have someone who can take care of my account in case I die,” shares Jesus Falcis. Facebook allows you to appoint a legacy contact, a person you choose to look after your account if you pass away. Well, this last item is not really a “protection” per se, but a precaution of last resort that no dissenter would ever want to be used.

The spectacle drags on, prolonging itself further still.

The showrunners must know that some won’t take this sitting down — they’ll stand up. InqPOP!/Jaia Yap

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