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Cybercrime libel law not that clear

09:01 AM April 23, 2019

The new Congress should observe the constitutional requirement that a bill “shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in [its] title,” such as by increasing the penalty for libel, reversing the humane libertarian trend in recent Supreme Court decisions of no jail time for defamers, only fines and damages.

Republic Act No. 10175, “An Act Defining Cybercrime, Providing for the Prevention, Investigation, Suppression and the Imposition of Penalties, Therefor…” to me, did not alert the community that what was merely fined before, as a practical matter, could now mean a nonprobationable penalty of at least six years and one day.

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The title should have included language imposing a more severe punishment for libel. In the case of Maria Ressa, the rider is the new weapon used to stifle effective criticism or dissent. Had Rappler been in praise of the regime, the law would not have been applied with an evil eye and an unequal hand against one not brown-nosing the regime.

The new law repudiated the humane libertarian tendency of the Supreme Court not to impose jail time, which is as it should be.

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Speech is not criminalized in many advanced jurisdictions. And cyberspace, millions of us do not stay or stray in, unlike radio-TV and the printed media. So, why treat cybercrime defamation more harshly when much of the community at large may not know of the defamation? Or smaller than those who get their news from radio-TV and the printed media? No equal protection.

We are in decay, which Digong should arrest by being more liberal with critics who all share his love of country.

R. A. V. SAGUISAG, Palanan, Makati City

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TAGS: cybercrime libel law, Inquirer letters, Rene Saguisag, Rodrigo Duterte
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