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The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) said that the enactment of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 betrayed Aquino’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression.In an interview with IPS, Secretary General of the NUJP, Rowena Paraan, called the law “sneaky”.However, the law also broadens the coverage of libel as a content-related offense that can be committed by just about anybody using a computer.Section 4 (4) of the Cybercrime Act deems as illegal any “unlawful and prohibited act of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future”.But what caught my eye, was a couple sections up from the libel part.It appears that Cybersex is now a crime in the Philippines too.
Citing Senate journals and interviews, investigative journalist and blogger Raissa Robles claims that Senator Vicente Sotto III pushed for the insertion into the law at the eleventh hour; an ironic twist, given various allegations that he copied parts of blog articles in previous speeches without crediting the bloggers.
According to NUJP’s Paraan, anyone who uses the internet to express their opinions is now liable for what they post.
Online statements posted on blogs and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, that can be interpreted as an attack on the reputation of an individual or an entity, may give rise to libel suits.
Libel is defined in Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) as a “public imputation and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstances tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.” Professor Luis Teodoro, who serves as deputy director of the Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), says the new law actually strengthens an 82-year-old libel law that has been described by the United Nations Human Rights Council as “draconian” and “excessive”.
“At a time when the global trend is to decriminalise libel, the new cybercrime law is very regressive and takes us several steps backward,” Teodoro told IPS.