Press freedom and libel-A A +A
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
MEMBERS of Cebu media were busy preparing for the 18th edition of the Cebu Press Freedom Week, which kicked off Sunday, when President Noynoy Aquino signed into law Republic Act No. 10175, the so-called Cybercrime Prevention Act 2012.
The law’s title is a misnomer.
It doesn’t prevent cybercrimes; it punishes cybercrimes.
But the law failed to designate cyber cops tasked to nab cybercriminals in cyberspace.
What’s more, lawmakers sneaked into this law online libel by merely adopting the prohibited acts of libel as defined under the Revised Penal Code.
What if libel was committed by publication in a newspaper and that newspaper also has an online edition?
An aggrieved party may slam the paper for online libel in which the penalty is one degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code.
Attempts to decriminalize libel have become a curse of Sisyphus, who, having earned the wrath of the gods, was condemned to an eternity of hopelessly rolling an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again and again.
The latest move to decriminalize libel has not even reached the top of the Congressional hill.
Now an online libel law, an even bigger boulder, is rolling down upon members of the media.
But mind you, it also covers all Internet users, including bloggers and users of social networking sites.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, smarting from the no-show of her colleagues at her committee inquiry into issues involving resigned DILG undersecretary Rico E. Puno Friday, said she will not attend the Senate sessions this week in retaliation for the snub.
“Tit for tat. If they snub my hearing, I will snub their session,” Santiago said.
But she also vowed to veto the confirmation of Cabinet members who were invited but failed to attend her committee inquiry.
Who’s first? It looks like it’s the confirmation of Secretary Mar Roxas as the new DILG secretary on Wednesday.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 19, 2012.