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‘Media censorship is back…’



Twenty-six years since democracy was supposedly restored and media censorship ended, it is alarming to hear that Philippine President Aquino has signed into law Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) joins the Filipino people in urging the Philippine Supreme Court to declare the cybercrime law unconstitutional.

Instead of signing a law that threatens anew not only the freedom of the press but also the freedom of millions of ordinary citizens who use the Internet, President Aquino should have instead worked for the immediate passage of the long-overdue Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

We hope that when President Aquino comes to New Zealand on Oct. 22, 2012, he would have good news that the cybercrime law has been junked and the FOI bill has finally been passed.

The FOI bill must be passed if the Aquino administration is serious about taking the righteous path. Allowing citizens to access information about their elected public officials is crucial in ensuring accountability and promoting good governance.

In New Zealand, the Official Information Act has been in place for 30 years now.

With the cybercrime law that includes online libel, we are concerned that the Filipino people’s right to express their views and criticize erring public officials is seriously threatened. Journalists, anticorruption crusaders and ordinary citizens who express strong views against corrupt politicians would be sanctioned for merely expressing their views as cybercriminals.

With the cybercrime law, the Aquino administration has declared its own version of Marcos’ martial law—the e-martial law, and now those in power may unjustly claim any information posted on the Internet to be libelous. Media censorship is back wholesale, and ordinary citizens are now more vulnerable to being charged with libel.

—MURRAY HORTON,

secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa,

Box 2450 Christchurch,

New Zealand,

cafca@chch.planet.org.nz


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