Let's forget there was an Edsa revolt

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By Nef Luczon

Pencalibur

Monday, February 24, 2014


THE Supreme Court could have brought its image as the people's last standing edifice in the government symbolizing justice and a defender for those who have less in life. But we were fooled.

When it declared unconstitutional one provision of the Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law of 2012 giving government agencies like the Department of Justice and National Bureau of Investigation access to our data usages and online profiles in the Internet considered as "malicious," we thought it should never materialize.

But when they retained the provision on "online libel," we felt betrayed, it appears that the majority of "honorable" justices who voted for its retention have other interpretation of Article III Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution stating 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."

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We understood that all kinds of rights and freedom are not absolute; these still require responsibility from each one of us on how we utilize these rights and freedom so it won't lead us to abuse them.

But enforcing a law to regulate one's freedom of speech and expression, and of the press is another story, much so our freedom to express our views online. As if libel as criminal offense was not enough under the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act 3815.

In light of all these, perhaps it is time we forget there ever was an Edsa Revolution some 28 years ago. The essence of that peaceful revolution was freedom, but did we have it after democracy was restored? How can there any be democracy if the authors of Anti-Cybercrime Law are so concerned in curtailing one's freedom?

Although the nature of the law is to apprehend people using the Internet to scam other people and victimize women and children through trafficking and cybersex activities, but inserting "online libel," and not even a single attempt to decriminalize it, is a manifestation that the government and its officials are afraid of criticisms.

In a democratic country, criticisms should be deemed important, but when you criticize you are accused as an anti-government or a communist. How else can the government and its officials perform better if no one criticizes? If the press acts as a PR firm of all the government’s whims instead of being truth seekers and tellers?

Aren't the exposès on corruption not enough to prove that there are indeed anomalous transactions under, and even outright over, the noses of the people? If no one will voice out what's wrong in the system, then we are part of the corrupted system – and putting libel as a criminal offense either online or not, is one way our system sedates us to conforming what is not right.

Above all, the creation of such laws and the retention of the majority of Supreme Court justices toward libel as a criminal offense only show their disrespect to the country and the Constitution.

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[Email: nefluczon@gmail.com | nefoi.blogspot.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 24, 2014.

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