Lawyer uses tiff with Vicki Belo to test Cybercrime law

Posted at 10/03/12 6:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Lawyer Argee Guevarra is testing the limits of the Cybercrime Prevention Act by posting allegedly libelous and defamatory statements against popular cosmetologist Dr. Vicki Belo.

In his Facebook account, Guevarra challenged Belo to sue him anew to test the mettle of the new law.

"Mas mabuti na magdemanda sya ulit para masubukan at para maipakita kung gaano kalupit ang batas na ito,” he said.

Guevarra was the first to be charged with libel using the popular social media network Facebook as his publishing site.

An Antipolo court later dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction and jurisprudence on Internet libel then.

Guevarra said that if Belo will again file charges, it would be interesting to see if the complaint would include the 17 people who "liked" the post and the 5 people who "shared" the post. He said he also wondered if Facebook will be held liable for publishing the post.

Guevarra, who is also the convenor of the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance, said the first day of implementation of the new law marks the electronic declaration of martial law.

"Kung dati Mendiola, ngayon Twitter; kung dati Plaza Miranda; ngayon Facebook," he said.

He added: "Kung hindi maamyendahan, lahat ng gumagamit ng social media baka makita na lamang natin sa EDSA.”

He said social networking sites are private diaries and private communications between people that shouldn't be criminalized.

Online protest

Guevarra is not the only one protesting online. Trending on Twitter is the topic  "No to cyber crime law.”

Some Facebook users also removed their profile pictures to a completely black image. There are also status messages where some words were painted to denote the trivialities of the law.

Memes also abound. A statement was made in jest that in the near future, criminals could be put in jail, not for murder or other heinous crimes, but for sharing a post or liking a status.

There were even photos of social media users in a mugshot with "future cybercriminal" as their signs and people in jail saying they just "liked" a post.

One fake Facebook notification had a Philippine National Police logo, stating "one new warrant of arrest."