SAN FERNANDO CITY, PAMPANGA—President Aquino justified the need for the anti-cybercrime law, saying it clearly defines and provides penalty for online criminal offenses such as online fraud, identity theft, and cybersex.
Speaking to reporters, Aquino said these offenses were not previously addressed by prevailing laws, hence the difficulty in filing cases against the perpetrators.
“Ang daming mga offenses na talaga tayo nagkaroon ng batas na pwedeng hulihin ng ating mga law enforcement authorities tapos pwedeng masentensiyahan ng ating mga korte,” Aquino told reporters.
The President is also in favor of including the provision on online libel as one of the law’s prohibited acts.
Aquino pointed out that the Revised Penal Code imposes sanctions on libelous comments only on print and broadcast, but not those on the Internet.
He reiterated that he is not for the suppression of freedom of speech but is only in favor of a law that will provide an avenue for victims of malicious statements on the Internet to seek redress.
“‘Yung sa libel, ako po’y hindi sang-ayon na tatanggalin natin… Kung meron kang sinulat, kunyari ikaw may sinulat ka… at libelous, meron kang pananagutan. Kung ikaw naman ay broadcaster at sinabi mo sa radyo o sa TV, may pananagutan ka rin. Kung parehong libelous ang sinabi mo, dumaan ka sa Internet, siguro libelous pa rin ho ‘yon,” Aquino said.
“Maski ano pang format kung talagang mali ‘yung mga pinagsasabi mo, dapat naman ho siguro merong karapatan ‘yung taong naapi or na-impinge ‘yung kanyang rights e para meron siyang redress,” he added.
He added that the law underwent a lengthy and thorough study in Congress and that it is the duty of the executive to implement the law.
Not doing so, he said, would make him guilty of dereliction of duty.
“Kung kailangang amyendahan ito, lehislatura po ang tutugon diyan; kung mali po, unconstitutional, syempre, Korte Suprema po ang huhusga doon. Kami po ‘pag hindi namin pinatupad itong batas na ito, pwede kaming liable ng dereliction of duty. Pwede po akong ma-impeach ‘pag hindi ko i-enforce ‘yung mga batas ng ating bansa,” he said.
Nevertheless, Aquino expressed willingness to sign amendments to the law, which Congress may propose and pass, including reducing the penalty on libel.
He said the implementing rules and regulations may also provide for ways so that the law will not be abused.
“Nandiyan ho ang ating Kongreso, handa silang mag-amyenda at pakinggan ‘yung mga taong—sabihin na natin medyo belatedly nagsalita. Pero pagkatapos na mamyendahan ‘yon, ako rin pipirmahan ko ‘yung, palagay ko, ‘pag tama naman po ‘yung version na hinain sa atin pipirmahan ko rin ho ’yan,” he said.
Aquino called for calm as proponents and critics alike debate the law.