The Cybercrime law, or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, becomes effective starting today, October 3, 2012 because the Supreme Court has not issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by various individuals and groups opposed to the new law.
Again, the law is effective as of today, Wednesday October 3, 2012. A very sad and black – or more appropriately “blocked” day.
Once again, Republic Act No. 10175 (its other more lawyish name), which among other things provides for blocking certain computer data and for longer prison terms for those found to have committed libel, is now in effect.
The Supreme Court should immediately rule upon its constitutionality or unconstitutionality. As of today, there has been no positive sign of a temporary restraining order (TRO) being released anytime within the week. The Supreme Court has deferred discussions on the seven petitions against it.
But consider the earlier pronouncement of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno that she would like to see the Supreme Court go back to its days of dignified silence and it makes quite an interesting case to watch out for.
Whatever the Court decides on, it is perhaps a defining moment (for better or for worse; and yes, this soon) for the Sereno-led court. So we would appreciate if we are given first-hand details on how the final decision was made.
Meanwhile, are we going to let this law stop us from passionately expressing our real feelings towards our government?
Why the Cybercrime Prevention Act Is Like Regurgitated Shit
I know it was thoughtful of mothers (of all species including humans) to regurgitate food for their babies so the very young won’t have a hard time chewing or swallowing (especially for humans who can’t afford to buy bottled baby food, or only has the budget to feed porridge or “lugaw”, and what solid food they could rummage out of the garbage or left-over waste of restaurants and fastfood chains).
However, if the mother is sick of any form of disease that could be transferred via saliva, the babies are just too weak and less immune to resist infection – plus of course saliva is yucky!
The Philippine Cybercrime law is equally yucky because it was “regurgitated”. It passed thru a person full of shit, or better yet “spit”. Imagine the saliva flowing out from his drooling mouth and spreading all over his “balbas-bigote” face.
“Senator Tito Sotto proudly owned up to the fact that he was responsible for inserting the libel clause into the law. Senator Chiz Escudero called the insertion a “mistake” and has said that he’ll move to have the law repealed. Meanwhile, Senator TG Guingona (along with the other senators who didn’t back the law) continues to be against the law. For its part, Malacañang said President Noynoy Aquino thoroughly reviewed the law before he affixed his signature to it—a fact which strikes some people as strange. There are those who have remarked that if P-Noy’s father, Ninoy, was still around, he probably be among those protesting what has come to be called as “cyber martial law.” – Spot.ph
Let me enumerate some reasons why people resent this law:
1. The law says if you don’t have anything good to say then just shut the fuck up – This could be tolerable for trivial irregularities and stuff that could be easily fixed by talking directly to the concerned parties, but for high-profile gross crimes and incompetence, where the accused and principal morality breaker refuses to yield, correct his erring ways, or apologize, should I stop myself from posting a rant on my social media account?
2. Like, Share, Retweet, etc can also send you to prison – The law says we can be sent to jail if we participate in disseminating the “libelous” comment. Sharing it in social media will qualify us as a cybercriminal for abetting libel.
3. It’s retroactive thus anything you said way back during your growth spurt can be used against you – Imagine receiving a warrant of arrest issued for a case against you involving your rants against your ex back in college or high school. Eventhough we have improved our attitudes or have changed our ways and repented on our past sins, if your enemies can still find that old site where you talked badly about your boss or city Mayor, then you’ll still be doing jail time.
4. One man’s joke can be another man’s libel case -“Interestingly, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has also ruled that even ironic, suggestive, or metaphorical language could be considered libelous. You don’t have to directly call someone a liar and a thief to get sued for libel. It’s enough to suggest it or state it sarcastically—as long as you do so in a public manner like posting on the Internet.”says Ramil Gulle’s opinion piece. This means no matter how “safe” or “jokingly” we try to say it, the implications will always be deemed qualified for libel charges.
The PNP even capitalized on the opportunity to warn, or more appropriately should be called “threaten” the public. Indeed, “threat” is the better word for this series of lunacy.
5. Due process of law gets trampled upon – Section 19 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act says, “when a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer.” The DOJ would not need to get a court order and can go right ahead and compel you to stop publishing your posts. So that could be either closing down and securing, or even destroying, your establishment or personal properties like your laptop and tablet phones.
6. It’s has worst penalties than the regular “libel” case involving traditional mainstream media – You get a maximum of 12 years in prison and be fined a maximum of ₱1,000,000. While the other “libel” case has a maximum of 4 years, being a cyber criminal puts you in a higher distinction because of the higher penalties. How come? Is it because you can afford to buy a computer and Internet connection you are considered elite that deserves equally elite penalties?
7. The law is definitely for the “special” people – Atty. Mel Sta. Maria pointed out that the Cybercrime Prevention Act is tagged as a mala prohibita law. “It is an accepted legal rule that offenses under special laws are considered mala prohibita as distinguished from mala in se. [For mala in se], there must be a criminal mind to be convicted. In murder, theft, robbery and other offenses punished by our Revised Penal Code, for example, intention to do wrong is an essential element. [For mala prohibita], there need not be a criminal mind. The mere perpetuation of the prohibited act is enough.” So we are considered far worst than the common criminals by merely perpetuating news about an immoral deed.
8. The dead can truly rest in peace – Under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, you would also be committing a crime if you “blacken the memory of one who is dead.” So this means we cannot speak ill of a person who passed away leaving a history of corruption and criminal lifestyle. We can be arrested for telling the even the truth about his past immoralities eventhough its a well-known fact already. Who’s going to sue us, their remaining living family members and relatives? Talk about rewriting history.
9. The most resentful provision was inserted by a bruised ego – Talk about taking it too personal – this was all because of the comedian who refused to apologize for his plagiarism. How did we come up with this law while everyone was talking about the hot issues on the Reproductive Health Bill, the proliferating Epaliticians and other issues that may make or break a politician in the nearing election? Do I really need to tell the real reason why such a libel provision was inserted and approved? Here’s the Senate Journal recording the events, and below is the specific point of “insertion”.
10. Did they consulted “real” technologists for advise? – I’m not sure who were the people involved in drafting this law. But considering the known personalities, none of them fits to declare a healthy assessment of the provisions covered. No one among them has the technical expertise to make a sound judgement on what is right and wrong. I would have loved to be part of a public hearing where I could get a chance to explain the technical pointers required for a well-polished and sensitized law.
I know I’m nobody special right now, but when this Cybercrime law starts to be abused by those who can afford a fancy lawyer who is also smart and witty enough to get around the loopholes of the law to prosecute the less fortunate and less informed, then I could very well say goodbye now to a peaceful life for I would not allow this law to silence me. I would not stop in expressing my real feelings towards the what I perceive as immoral and highly irregular.You would see me talking to the media to air my grievances. Enough with being just another face in the crowd. I would try to stand out in my own special way.
Are we going to say goodbye now to our basic human rights and the like? I know we may then start to see a lot of anonymity and false accounts in forums, social medias and blogs right now. Some people will now shy away from even using social media in fear of libel charges as a retaliation to what others would interpret wrongly rather than constructively.
Is this what the government wants out of their people? To live in fear and obscurity?