Angara: Don't worry about cybercrime libel

Posted at 10/05/2012 11:14 PM

Urges other cybercrime law authors to stand up, explain

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Edgardo Angara, the principal author of Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, urged the senators who voted for the law to defend their vote.

“I would wish that my fellow senators who supported this enthusiastically should also stand up and explain. This is a common effort, this is not just me,” Angara told ANC’s Prime Time on Friday.

The senators who approved the anti-cybercrime law proposal on third and final reading were Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan II, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Pia Cayetano, Bong Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Ejercito-Estrada, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Ralph Recto, and Manny Villar.

The anti-cybercrime law triggered uproar among netizens because of several provisions perceived to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet.

But Angara said the public should not fear the new law because several lawmakers have proposed to revise parts of it.

“There is no reason to be apprehensive and anxious because many of my colleagues have expressed enthusiasm in amending it,” he said.

Online libel

The law's provision on online libel was heavily criticized by various groups who believe that it will stifle discourse in the Internet.

Angara has defended the clause, saying that the Internet should not be considered a “zone of impunity.”

Angara said that when the clause was proposed on the Senate floor, not one senator made an objection.

“It is quite a reasonable request and I accepted that amendment and not one senator ever objected to that amendment,” he said.

The senator also said that those opposing the libel clause may be misinterpreting the law.

“Blogs, tweets and Facebook comments are not covered, those are protected expression. What’s outside the protection? If it is libelous, slanderous because even in print and broadcast, you can’t just say anything malicious against someone,” he explained.

“We should not focus simply on online libel because the overall purpose of the law will benefit the greater number. Because how many are just intent on making libelous and slanderous statements?” he added.

Eleven petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act have been filed before the Supreme Court.

The act was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino last September 12.