Media group holds protest vs anti-cybercrime law-A A +A
Thursday, October 4, 2012
MEMBERS of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in Cagayan de Oro trooped Wednesday to the St. Augustine Cathedral to protest the implementation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Law.
Froilan Gallardo, NUJP-CDO chapter president, said the protest, which coincided with the mass of the Liberal Party (LP) candidates led by Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno before filing their certificates of candidacy (COC), is to show to the public that journalists are against the law.
“We will continue working and covering Moreno and the whole LP’s filing of candidacy. But we are also drawing the public‘s attention that we are protesting the law,” Gallardo said.
President Benigno Aquino III signed into law on September 12, claiming that it will address crimes committed with the use of the internet and other electronic communication.
However, critics said provisions under the law violate fundamental freedoms and several provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution including the rights to free expression, free press, due process, privacy, equal protection and against double jeopardy.
The NUJP and the Philippine Press Institute said in a statement that the law’s provisions on criminal libel are direct strikes at the rights to free expression and press freedom and has expanded the coverage of libel to the internet, corresponding the imposition of higher penalties.
Rowena Paraan, secretary-general of NUJP, said the law was passed clearly not just the intention to address crimes in the Internet but it is based on foreign interest.
“The challenges to our profession are enormous and unending – and saddening, given that the Aquino administration stood on a platform of transparency, human rights and anti-corruption. It is alarming that we now have a law that will cripple civil liberties while the Freedom of Information Act gathers dust in Congress,” Paraan said.
The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing of the petitions to next week.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III has criticized the Supreme Court for the deferment and its failure to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) for the implementation of the law.
“The implementation of the law will take back our citizens to the Dark Ages where freedom of speech and expression were not recognized,” Guingona said.
He said the state has no right to gag its citizens and convict them for expressing their thoughts.
“The Philippines is a democratic country. The Filipinos should never be left to cower in the sidelines – their thoughts and voices should not be shackled by fear and intimidation. The people should not be afraid of its own government,” Guingona added.
In a statement, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) said the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the worst assault on free expression since Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law 40 years ago “if only for its potential to affect the 26 to 30 million Filipinos, including journalists, who regularly access the Internet to upload information through personal blogs or news sites, who comment on public issues in chat rooms or social media, or even those who communicate via email.”
A provision under the law stated that it gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power of judge, jury and executioner as it can declare that a prima facie evidence of a libel exists in any online information prior to the filing in a court for online libel.
“The Act is practically a bill of attainder -- expressly prohibited by the Constitution -- that punishes without trial. This power, however, does not prevent the DOJ from filing charges in court for the same offense, thus exposing the supposed offender to double jeopardy, or being twice held liable for the same offense,” the statement read.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 04, 2012.