Labor group: Online libel effect worse for workers without unions

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Thursday, February 20, 2014


EMPLOYEES in companies without labor unions often use the social media as platform to air their grievances.

But with the legalization of online libel via the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the Cybercrime Protection Law, these "freedom" will likely be stripped from them too.

This was the opinion of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research Inc. (EILER), saying the online libel will further take away workers of their right to self-expression.

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"Online libel further narrows the democratic space for Filipino workers, who are increasingly turning to social networking sites to voice labor concerns in the absence of unions," EILER head researcher Carlos Maningat said.

According to the labor research non-government organization (NGO), it will not be surprising if employers will be more encouraged in harassing their workers now that online libel is a crime.

"With the latest Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of online libel, we can expect corporations to use libel lawsuits to stifle workers' voices and block democratic initiatives of workers online such as social media campaigns,” said Maningat.

The group cited as an example workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, who are known to be prohibited from organizing unions.

Maningat noted how Facebook and Twitter are currently being tapped to launch online campaigns, circulate petitions against companies, publicize labor rights violations, and network with fellow workers and labor advocates abroad.

Last Tuesday, the SC had ruled that that the provision on online libel, as contained in the Cybercrime Protection Law, is constitutional despite the strong public condemnation.

President Benigno Aquino III, for his part, went to the defense of the High Court, saying it would not restrict freedom of expression as long as that the right is exercised responsibly. (HDT/Sunnex)

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