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Vigilantism harms freedom of expression – Palace

Posted at 10/03/2012 12:41 PM | Updated as of 10/03/2012 8:35 PM

De Lima warns hackers: You can be criminally liable

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang said online vandalism or hacking also harms freedom of expression.

In a statement released on the first day of the implementation of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda called on the law’s critics to “speak out against online vandalism and bullying with as much vigor and passion as they have expressed in their objections to certain provisions of this law. If our freedoms have been hard won, it would do us all well to remember that in the end, vigilantism harms the cause of freedom of expression and civil liberties for all netizens.”

He said the government understands criticisms on the law, specifically the provision on libel. He said, however, that these should be via constitutional processes.

Lacierda said that there is still a legal and reasonable way of discourse, which is via the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations of the law. “We urge the fullest and widest participation of stakeholders in this process.”

He said the public should remember that the Constitution is still the greatest element in binding everyone and in guaranteeing their civil liberties. 

“The administration is equally adamant in upholding these liberties, which were regained at such high cost by our people. As the President said on September 27, the vigorous exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a vibrant democracy, requires those who disagree not to oppress others,” he said.

The past weeks saw “hacktivists” deface several government websites. They are in opposition to the law’s provisions, which supposedly curtail freedom of expression.

In a separate interview with dzMM, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima warned hackers they can be criminally liable.

The National Bureau of Investigation is already looking into ways on how to stop the hacking activities.

De Lima said: "I think the means that they are adapting is foul. They should not do that. They should be reminded that they are committing a crime."

She noted critics should show protest via lawful means. "Kung naniniwala sila na mali 'yung ibang probisyon diyan sa Cybercrime Law, then you cannot right a wrong with another wrong. It is wrong to do the hacking."