Cybercrime law should be ‘corrected’
I disagree with Oscar Franklin Tan’s Sept. 29 letter belittling the chilling effect that the recently passed cybercrime law has on the freedom of speech of Internet citizens and would-be whistle-blowers, most of whom do not even have the mantle of protection of being journalists. In the Philippines, powerful politicians use the libel law to stifle critics and informants. As pointed out by the Sept. 20 Inquirer editorial, the key objective here is “harassment,” and not the successful conviction of the accused.
I wonder if Tan is a non-lawyer and has experienced being the frequent target of libel suits filed by someone intent on harassing him; he should learn how it is like from Ramon Tulfo, who wrote on Sept. 28 how former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo filed a libel suit against him (and against 44 other journalists, according to news reports). Tulfo commented that because Arroyo made life for so many others miserable, his life is now miserable.
The solution recommended by Tan—“for the media to help educate society on human rights in hi-tech concepts”—won’t cut it, either. The average netizen whistle-blower or critic, obviously not being engaged in the legal or journalism professions, is not apt to encounter or to seek out such educational articles in print media or in cyberspace.
Wikipedia states: “The United Nations Commission on Human Rights ruled in 2012 that the criminalization of libel violates freedom of expression and is inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
The Philippines badly needs a congressman or senator who will (1) file a bill correcting the cybercrime law, and (2) file another bill to make libel not a crime but an issue considered a civil wrong.
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