Palace: Cybercrime law not just about libel

Posted at 02/23/2014 5:13 PM | Updated as of 02/23/2014 6:21 PM

MANILA -- Malacanang on Sunday reminded critics of the cybercrime law that it was made not only for online libel, but for other more serious crimes perpetrated on the Internet.

"Huwag po nating kalimutan iyong layunin nitong batas. Ang title po ng batas 'Cybercrime Prevention Law.' Hindi lang naman po iyong tungkol sa libel ang importante diyan," Presidential Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said, stressing that the law was made to prevent Internet crimes such as child pornography.

"Merong mas mabibigat na krimen na nagaganap sa Internet o sa cyberspace katulad nung child pornography na sa dami at sa lawak at sa lalim nito ay seryoso," he said, noting that the Department of Justice considers child porn a core crime

"Iyon naman daw pong patungkol sa libel ay hindi kasing dami at hindi kasing lubha," he added.

Coloma also assured the public that the controversial law focuses on violations of human rights made on the Internet, and that it won't affect how the public normally express themselves online.

"Ang ating lang pinipigil ay iyong pagsasagawa ng krimen sa cyberspace. So huwag lang po tayong mawalan ng pokus," he said.

Last week, the Supreme Court declared several provisions of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 as constitutional, including that governing online libel.

The Cybercrime Protection Law was passed in 2012 to stamp out online scourges such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography, but its implementation was suspended after coming under challenge from various groups.

But President Benigno Aquino III said the provision in the anti-cybercrime law prohibiting online libel does not restrict freedom of expression, noting that rights have their limits and that there is nothing to fear if the right is exercised responsibly.

Critics of the law lambasted the high court's decision, which they said would curb Internet freedom. They also noted that the court decision comes just a few days before this year's celebrations of the 1986 People Power Revolution on Tuesday.

"The anniversary of EDSA 1 will be marked with such great irony this year; the President supporting online libel and threatening press freedom, at the same time defending his appointment of a police general to the martial law compensation board. Both instances are betrayals of what the people stood for in EDSA -- freedom and justice," Renato M. Reyes, Jr., Bayan secretary general, said in a statement on Sunday.

EDSA protest

Meanwhile, petitioners against the cybercrime law announced that they will be filing individual appeals before the Supreme Court in light of its decision on the constitutionality of the law.

This after Kabataan partylist and the Bloggers and Netizens for Democracy (BAND) facilitated the #NotoCybercrimeLaw Alliance Gathering on Saturday.

“During the discussions, we’ve arrived at the conclusion that the 15 individual cases against the Cybercrime Law represent various stakeholders and sectors of society, and precisely due to that, the recent SC decision on the Cybercrime Law would have various ramifications for each petitioner,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said in a statement released on Sunday.

“It was also agreed that filing individual MRs would enable us to exhaust all possible arguments against the SC decision,” he added, saying that the petitioners will most probably file their appeals early next month.

The #NotoCybercrimeLaw Alliance has set a “Black Tuesday” protest against the so-called “e-Martial Law” during the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power on February 25.

The multisectoral protest action will be held at the EDSA Shrine at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We need to show the Philippines and the world how ironic it is to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power that toppled down the Marcos dictatorship while e-Martial Law exists and poses a grave threat to our civil liberties,” Ridon said.