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Thursday, February 20, 2014

PNoy Backs Online Libel

PNoy yesterday defended the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 that penalizes online libel, saying the public has nothing to fear if they are telling the truth. The president tried to allay public concerns a day after Supreme Court ruled that the new law's online libel provisions was constitutional. Critics however said the libel provisions will result in effective censorship and may be used against those who criticize anti-people policies and corrupt practices of the government. But PNoy speaking to reporters after an inspection of a government housing project in Manila, said Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) will not be used to suppress dissent in the country. Will freedom of expression be stopped? I don't think that's the purpose of the law, Aquino said in Pilipino. We were taught in school that your rights end when they impinge on the rights of others, he added. However PNoy said that if erring print and broadcast journalist can be sued for libel, then the libel provision must also be applied to digital platfroms. If there's libel on TV and radio and in newspaper should that be exempted when stated in another format? PNoy asked. He said that even journalist would likely protest should there be unequal protection. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of online libel and majority provisions of the country's cybercrime law last Monday. The online libel clause, however, is deemed unconstitutional only when it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it, according to the High Court. The law was signed by PNoy in 2012 but it's implementation was stopped by the Supreme Court amid a flurry of complaints from various groups. Meanwhile the Senate will still push through with amending a key provision in the Cybercrime Prevention Act even after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of online libel, Sen. Escudero said. He had earlier filed Sen. Bill No. 126, repealing Sec. 4 of the R.A. No. 10175, finding basis on the unequivocal constitutional provision of freedom speech.         
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