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‘Backward by a century’

/ 12:10 AM February 24, 2014

This best describes the Supreme Court’s decision on the petitions to

declare the Cybercrime Prevention Act unconstitutional.

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For while the high court rightly declared a number of provisions of the statute unconstitutional, it otherwise upheld the law and, worse, its provision on online libel, thus adding yet another element to an offense that former colonizers had, a hundred years ago, declared criminal in nature to stifle dissent; and which succeeding governments have conveniently retained in our Revised Penal Code for the very same reason. A law also used as a convenient tool by the corrupt and the inept in power to harass and muzzle those with the temerity to bring their venalities to light.

By extending the reach of the antediluvian libel law into cyberspace, the Supreme Court has suddenly made a once infinite venue for expression into an arena of fear, a hunting ground for the petty and vindictive, the criminal and autocratic. Ironically, we all believed that this is the very frontier that would be most immune to attempts to suppress free expression.

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We can only hope that the Supreme Court will not remain blind to this when appeals to the ruling are filed. Otherwise, there can only be one response, lest we be forced to surrender all our other rights: resistance.

—ROWENA PARAAN,

chair, National Union of

Journalists of the Philippines,

89 Scout Castor Street corner

Scout Tuason Street (near T. Morato Ave.), Barangay Laging Handa, QC,

[email protected]

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