Cybercrime law violates
freedom of
Cebu Daily News / 06:24 AM September 21, 2012

Today we remember the 40th year
anniversary of the declaration of Martial
Law by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Among the first victims of Martial Law was
the freedom of expression. criminal penalties for libel under the
Revised Penal Code.
Twenty-six years after the end of this
malignant era, we should be celebrating a Punishing online libel a degree higher than
priceless gift of liberty. ordinary libel is grievous aggravation.

However, last Sept. 12, the present Libel has been used as a harassment tool
occupant of Malacañang signed into law by public officials against journalists and
something that brings to life the ghost of citizens who criticize the excesses and
Martial Law — the draconian Cybercrime misconduct of those in power.
Prevention Law or Republic Act 10175.
Worse, the new law has a “take down”
The authors and supporters of this law provision which would give the executive
claim that the law is needed to regulate department through the Department of
how people behave in cyberspace. Justice powers to issue an order to “restrict
or block access” to computer data
Rapid technology advancement has considered as “prima facie” evidence in
revolutionized how people share ideas on violation of the law’s provisions.
line, especially through social media. The
power of the Internet helped topple The inclusion of libel and the “take down”
dictators in the Middle East and North Africa provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention
last year. Law strikes at the heart of the
constitutionally protected freedom of
In the Philippines, with Internet penetration expression.
at 30 million or about 30 percent of the
population, on line and social media has This right of a free press prohibits the State
become a potent force. from using its powers to make good threats
of subsequent punishment or censorship of
Including online libel for defamatory published or uttered ideas from any citizen.
utterances and publications sets back the
campaign to strike out the 80-year-old

bloggers. If some quarters in high government want to police cyberspace because it views it as the new wild wild west. 4 of the 1987 Constitution clearly states that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech. then it falls on all freedom-loving Filipinos. . especially journalists. or the right of the people to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. sec. and millions of online social media users to band together as cyber cowboys.Article 3. the call for vigilance against enemies of freedom and democracy gains more relevance. of expression. ready to lasso the wayward sheriff.” On this day of remembrance. or of the press.