Thursday, October 11, 2012

Aquino backs cyberlaw; open to amendments

President Benigno Aquino III, Aquino, Panot, Aquino panot, Noynoy Aquino, Cyber Crime Law, CyberCrime Law in the Philippines 

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday defended a new cybercrime law amid a storm of protests from defenders of freedom of expression and opponents of libel as a criminal offense.
Mr. Aquino specifically backed one of the most controversial elements of the cybercrime law, which mandates that people who post defamatory comments online be given much longer jail sentences than those who commit libel in traditional media.
“I do not agree that it [the provision on libel] should be removed,” Mr. Aquino said. “If you say something libelous [on] the Internet, then it is still libelous …. no matter what the format.”
Another controversial element of the law, which went into effect on Wednesday, allows the government to monitor online activities, such as e-mail, video chats and instant messaging, without a warrant.
The government can also now close down websites it deems to be involved in criminal activities without a warrant.
Human rights groups, media organizations and netizens have voiced their outrage at the new law, with some saying it echoes the curbs on freedoms imposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.
Local social media have been vocal with protests this week, while hackers have attacked government websites, and 11 petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court asking the tribunal to overturn parts of the law that infringe on freedoms.
The Philippine Bar Association (PBA) brought the 11th petition on Friday, asking the Supreme Court to void six such sections of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Lawmakers are considering amending the law to rid it of the controversial provisions. But so long as they haven’t done so, President Aquino wants the portion penalizing online libel to stay.
Speaking to reporters after the induction of 1,000 local leaders of the ruling Liberal Party at Heroes Hall here, Mr. Aquino said the executive department had to enforce the new law otherwise he risked impeachment.
Mr. Aquino explained: “If you write something and it’s libelous, you’re liable. If you’re a broadcaster and you air it on radio or TV, you’re also liable. If you say the same thing on the Internet, I guess that’s also libelous. So in whatever format, the person whose rights were impinged should have redress.”
After all, rights are “bounded” when they impinge on the rights of others, he said.
Mr. Aquino said the authors of the Revised Penal Code worked without the Internet on their mind. This time, with the cybercrime law, the authors made sure that the Internet was covered by the provision on libel, he said.
Facing elections next year, senators, including the authors of the cybercrime law, have scrambled to amend the controversial provisions, including the element that imposes a higher penalty on libel and another that authorizes the Department of Justice to shut down websites without a warrant.
Reelectionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said Congress should admit its fault in the controversy involving the new cybercrime law.
“Whether you voted for it, you did not vote for it, you weren’t there, if it’s wrong, that’s part of leadership,” Cayetano said. “Sorry, we were wrong, we will correct it.”
The best way for Congress to admit its fault is to amend the law, Cayetano said.
But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is not keen on amending the new law. Although seeking reelection, Belmonte said on Friday that he saw no urgency in amending the law and that the senators were in hurry to amend it because they would be running in next year’s elections.
“This is a terrific law, the first law that governs this thing that has become part of our lives and so forth and I think it’s good that we give it a chance to work,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte played down the controversy involving the inclusion of libel in the new law.
“How many [people] have been convicted of libel here in the Philippines?” he asked.

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1 comment:

  1. Let us be responsible on what we are saying in our fb or twitter that may hurt other people.

    Read more about CyberLaw