A violation of freedom-A A +A
Saturday, October 6, 2012
ARTICLE III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Republic Act 10175 seems like a blatant disregard of this article. Everyone from the common netizen to the Human Rights Watch itself is in agreement that the new law, the so-called “Cybercrime Prevention Act” is ushering in a new era of virtual martial law.
The new law seeks to prevent unsolicited business over the Internet, free file-sharing, cybersex (even between two consenting adults), online porn, and most controversial of all – libel.
What do people mean when they say “libel?” well according to the revised penal code, libel is “the public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”
So, to clarify, the Cybercrime Prevention Act won’t let anyone say anything bad against anybody on the Internet, politician or non-politician, dead or alive. What does this mean? It means we have to say pretty words with sugar and whipped cream on top to everyone on the Internet all the time – it also means that we can no longer criticize our government – never mind if the criticism is positive or not, we just
can’t express ourselves. Hmm – this looks familiar. When did this happen last? Ah yes, martial law.
By definition of the act, if I wanted to say that there were corrupt policemen, who are willing to execute people in Manila for a few thousand pesos, this is an “imputation of a circumstance that causes dishonor” to the mentioned parties. If the act is enforced, that means that I’d go either go to jail for twelve years or pay a life-destroying million peso fine.
Or even more ridiculous, if I said that “Senator so-and-so… who has been dead since the late 1970s used to have an affair with a goat.” on my Facebook wall – this would be defined as an “imaginary act causing
dishonor…” and as “blackening the memory of one who is dead.” That’s a double whammy offense, which translates either to a million peso fine, twelve years in jail, or both. What’ll happen to the people who “liked” and “shared” this post? According to Senator Teofisto Guingona III, the same damn thing. The good senator was quoted as saying,
“If you click ‘like,’ you can be sued, and if you share, you can also be sued, even Mark Zuckerberg can be charged with cyber-libel…”
Whatever little good this law does is completely offset by that single libel clause – and Senator Tito Sotto, the one who put the clause in, is absolutely proud of what he’s done. He “believes in it” and he “doesn’t think there’s any additional harm.”
Putting an 18-year-old in jail for downloading a few mp3s would be considered “additional harm.”
People log on to the Internet because they want to express themselves and be free. This law is taking that away from them.
If you don’t like it – I suggest you do something about it.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 07, 2012.