Authors agree with libel provision in cybercrime law-A A +A
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
MEMBERS of the House of Representatives said they have no problem with the Senate's insertion of libel in the computer-related offenses provision of the Cybercrime Law of 2012.
Journalist and blogger Raissa Robles said it was Senator Vicente Sotto III who inserted libel in Senate Bill 2796, the chamber's version of the law.
Sotto earlier warned his critics of heavier penalties provided in the cybercrime law after he was heavily criticized on social media for allegedly plagiarizing his speech on the controversial reproductive health bill.
"Once the cybercrime bill is enacted into law, they will be accountable for what they say or write," Sotto said earlier.
Over the weekend, Malacañang confirmed that President Benigno Aquino III has signed Republic Act (RA) 10175 or the Cybercrime Law.
The cybercrime law had the same online libel provision provided in Senate Bill 2796.
"The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future," RA 10175 states under computer-related offenses.
In the House version of the measure, cybercrime also covers those penalized under the Revised Penal Code, and special criminal laws committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies. It did not, however, clearly specify online libel.
"(The) provision was not in version I filed. Having said that, (the) law doesn't fundamentally alter the principles regarding free expression. It merely extends to cyber realm or online world the principles we recognize in the printed or spoken world," Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, one of the authors of House version of the measure, said in a text message.
Bagong Henerasyon party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy, also an author of the measure, said while it was not included in the approved House version, she is in favor of online libel.
"If journalists are duty bound to heed libel law, why not others who also exercise freedom of expression? Bloggers and other internet users do not only criticize government officials, they also criticize private individuals," she said.
One proponent, Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo, however, argued that RA 10175 goes against moves to decriminalize libel.
"The Internet will stay as a big jungle of information. It's inconceivable how we could tame it. In brief, imposing libel is irrelevant. It won't lead to greater responsibility and accountability in the information highway," he said in a text message. "The option is to educate ourselves that not all could be taken as gospel truth in the Internet." (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)