'Don't bite hand that feeds you': DENR asks staff to stop posting anti-gov't views

'Don't bite hand that feeds you': DENR asks staff to stop posting anti-gov't views

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is discouraging its employees from posting negative remarks about the government on social media amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

In a memorandum dated April 5, 2020, a copy of which has circulated online, DENR directed its provincial, city, and regional heads to advise their staff, including those under Contract of Service (COS), “not to comment or post negative in the social media against the government.”

“As a government employee, we should exemplify discipline to the community and promote cooperation to the government,” the memo, signed by DENR Assistant Regional Director for Management Services Marcos Dacanay, reads.

In a phone interview with, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda confirmed the issuance of the memo but insisted that it is just a “reminder” against posting “purely negative criticisms” about the government’s handling of the health crisis.

Antiporda explained that the memo was issued after some government employees, most of whom are under the COS setting and job order (JO) workers, aired their frustration on social media after being affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine since they are under the no work, no pay scheme.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under lockdown to prevent the further spread of the respiratory disease. The measure also effectively suspended work for the majority of the region’s populace as it likewise halted the operations of public transport. Luzon region is home to about half of the country’s population.

And now that the government has issued an order to allow the release of the salaries of contractual employees to help tide them over the month-long quarantine of Luzon, Antiporda said it is now unfair for COS and JO workers to criticize the government.

“I don’t think the government deserves na i-bash nila ‘yung sariling gobyerno nila. This is just to tell them that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you ‘di ba?” he said.

But the DENR official explained that the memo is not meant to curtail freedom of expression although he also said disciplinary action awaits possible violators of the law.

“There’s no curtailment of freedom of speech here. It’s just a reminder. So if ever, they will post [something] negative about the government then we will look into it. If there’ a violation of the law then we will conduct disciplinary actions,” he said.

“What we mean by these negative comments are those oust Duterte…those are negative comments and that will not help the government in this fight of ours,” he added.