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PNoy backs online libel

Critics Say It’s Censorship, But Aquino Assures It Won’t Be Used To Suppress Dissent

Manila, Philippines — President Benigno S. Aquino III yesterday defended the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 that penalizes online libel, saying the public has nothing to fear if they are telling the truth.

The President tried to allay public concerns a day after the Supreme Court ruled that the new law’s online libel provision was constitutional.

Critics, however, said the libel provision will result in effective censorship and may be used against those who criticize anti-people policies and corrupt practices of the government.

But Aquino, speaking to reporters after an inspection of a government housing project in Manila, said Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) will not be used to suppress dissent in the country.

 

Nothing To Fear

Will freedom of expression be stopped? I don’t think that is the purpose of the law, Aquino said in Filipino.

We were taught in school that your rights end when they impinge on the rights of others, he added.

I repeat, if you are telling the truth, why would you fear libel? he added.

But Edre U. Olalia, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary general, said: “The chilling effect of a Damocles’ sword for those who are wired basically remains. Any blanket threat of criminal prosecution for online libel tilts the balance for untrammeled state intervention and will practically result in effective censorship, if not timidity or inordinate trepidation.”

However, Aquino said that if erring print and broadcast journalists can be sued for libel, then the libel provision must also be applied to digital platforms.

If there is libel on TV, radio, and in the newspaper, should that be exempted when stated in another format? Aquino asked. He said that even journalists would likely protest should there be “unequal protection.”

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of online libel and majority provisions of the country’s cybercrime law last Monday. The online libel clause, however, is deemed unconstitutional only when it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it, according to the High Court.

The law was signed by President Aquino in 2012 but its implementation was stopped by the Supreme Court amid a flurry of complaints from various groups.

 

Decriminalizing Libel Pushed

Meanwhile, the Senate will still push through with amending a key provision in the Cybercrime Prevention Act even after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of online libel, Senator Francis Escudero said.

“We respect the decision of the Supreme Court but still there is a need to pass amendments with regards to removing the libel provision stated in the law,” Escudero said in an interview.

Escudero has earlier filed Senate Bill No. 126, repealing Section 4 of the Republic Act No. 10175, finding basis on the unequivocal constitutional provision on freedom of speech.

He said the Upper Chamber has to take into consideration Senate Bill No. 2162, a bill he also filed decriminalizing libel under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.

Escudero said he is in favor of decriminalizing libel, downgrading the liability from criminal to civil liability.

Nonetheless, Escudero said he sees no need to repeal the anti-cybercrime law which he believes could be a key instrument in helping law enforcement authorities to clamp down on cybersex operations, identity theft, and other Internet-related crimes. (With reports from Francis T. Wakefield, Chito A. Chavez, and Hannah L. Torregoza)

  • underthePhilippineSun

    for me, this is a stupid idea … not all people can connect to the internet… for sure these laws have full of loopholes that lawmakers and lawbreakers are ready to mix -up…. what a heck….. anyway, it is only my own opinion and i am ready to abide with the law of the land… God Bless Philippines…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1232111953 Juanito Memoracion Jr.

    This Cyber Law upholds our freedom of speech in truth but it will curtail the freedom of livelous speech. May freedom of speech pa rin basta sa totoo lang, ano ang ikakatakot mo dito kung totoo naman ang pinost o batikos mo? Puwede pa rin tayong magpost o bumatikos sa kahit kanino basta totoo at may pruweba. Mas maganda nga ang ganito para nagiingat ang mga netizen na huwag magpost o bumatikos ng kasinungalingan. Malaki ang maitutulong ng Cyber Law na eto upang masala na pulos katotohanan ang postings o batikos. Kaya walang masama dito kundi bagkus ay mabuti ang batas na eto upang magpakatotoo ang sambayanang pilipino o netizens. Ang Cyber Law na eto ay sumusupil doon sa mga masasamang netizen na gumagawa ng kasamaan sa online na ang mga posting ay labag sa batas, labag sa kagandahang asal na makatao makaDiyos at makatarungan. Eto ay susupil sa mga palamura at sa mga sinungaling, susupil sa mga nagpoposting ng mga pornography kabastusan at walang katotohanan na mga caricature, fabricated o edited pictures, o walang katotohanan na masasamang postings o batikos. Hindi mo dapat katakutan o ayawan ang Cyber Law na eto kung ikaw ay mabuting tao at isang law abiding citizen o netizen bagkus dapat pang suportahan ang alin mang batas na tulad nito na masasabi kong makatao, makaDiyos at makatarungan.

    • aristotle

      Agreed. Just avoid liking, reposting, sharing something you don’t know. Get your facts straight and be responsible of what you post in the internet.

  • eagleclaw101

    Malacanang appointed Supreme Court chief Justice Lourdes Sereno is now
    watching over her colleagues at the highest court and directs them:

    Number 1: to remained in
    perpetual motion in toeing the line of Malacanang wishes.

    Number 2: to defend at all cost the vast sugar land estate of
    Hacienda Luisita currently owned by the Cojuangcos/Aquinos by virtue of doctored
    laws.

    Number 3: Introduction of adulterated Cybercrime Law
    to dissuade/ suppress the ordinary citizen from criticizing the government for
    doing nothing to uplift the welfare of it’s citizen.

    • bertrand

      Like burying your head in the sand maybe ??

  • bertrand

    But Aquino, speaking to reporters after an inspection of a government housing project in Manila, said Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) will not be used to suppress dissent in the country.

    While you are the president…maybe. But what happens after 2016 ???

    Knowing the arrogance of those in the corridors of power….
    I shudder at the thought, Mr. President.

    Your father paid the ultimate price to uphold
    freedom(of expression) in this country.
    Very often you honor his sacrifices with
    pride and rightly so.

    You have two years to live up to that legacy