The enactment of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was, to say the least, sneaky and betrays this administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression – nil.
The inclusion of libel among the crimes that may be committed with the use of computers poses a threat not only against the media and other communicators but anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet.
Compare the haste with which this measure and the Data Privacy Act became law, compared to Congress’ lethargy on a bill that President Benigno Aquino III has repeatedly declared a priority yet never lifted a finger to help shepherd through the legislative mill – the Freedom of Information Act – and it becomes all too apparent that this president never meant anything he said with respect to our rights and our freedoms.
Indeed, provisions of the Data Privacy Act further restrict access to information.
And the Cybercrime Prevention Act actually broadens the scope of a libel law so antiquated and draconian that the United Nations Human Rights Council itself declared it excessive and called on the Philippine government to review the law with the end of decriminalizing libel.
We have time and again aired our suspicions that this president was no friend of press freedom, what with his apathy toward the continued murders, assaults and threats on our ranks and his penchant for whining and blaming media for delivering the news instead of singing his praises.
The passage of these new laws confirms those suspicions and unmasks his real intent.
But, as we have said, also time and again, with no fear of being proven wrong, that the reason the Philippine press remains free is because Filipino journalists insist it remain so. We are certain bloggers, netizens and all those who value freedom of expression share these sentiments, whatever the Cybercrime Prevention Act says.
And so we say, bring it on.