Cybercrime law may face repeal soon!
Most likely will the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10175 be amended. The amendment process will take place even before the law starts growing a tooth for its actual enforcement. Until this week, protests against this newest law of the Philippines kept mounting. This is the first time in our country when a law, upon its approval forthwith drew heavy flak and opposition from various sectors of society. At first, computer network and web quasi-administrators fired the salvo of protestation via hacking attacks on government and business websites. Soon, however, even simple netizens hopped in as supporters. Then the usual parliament of the streets. During the first few days of the hacking attacks, already a number of legislators, both in the Lower and the Upper houses of Philippine Congresses expressed their dismay to the unexpected wildcat manifestations of objection to the law. When the twin houses of legislation resumed their respective session early this week, amending the law was foremost in the solons’ minds.
On the last week of September, senator Chiz Escudero appeared to be the first legislator to express the strongest intention to have RA 10175 immediately repealed. That, even if the law’s implementing rules and regulations have still to see an IRR first letter. In a weekly press forum at the Senate, Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights said the particular provision on libel as a crime in RA 10175 should be repealed as it runs contrary to his position as a principal author of a bill decriminalizing libel.
Sec. 4 Para 4 of the cybercrime prevention law broadens the coverage of libel which now includes those with the use of “computer system or other similar means that may be devised in the future.” The senator said it was a personal oversight on his part that the above clause was inserted in the Committee Report when the Senate voted for its passage.
Escudero in 2010 filed SBN 2162 decriminalizing libel to accord greater protection to freedom of speech and expression either those done in writing or other similar means by taking away the threat or fear of incarceration, restraint of liberty and fine. “This move is just being consistent with my original bill to decriminalize libel. At the very least, if at all, libel should just be made a civil liability. If a person is proven to have besmirched someone, let the guilty party pay for damages. But it should be remembered that in libel, proof of the truth is defense.”
Escudero reiterated what was stated in SB No. 2162, “that a strong media could give great service to the Filipino people in providing an effective mechanism of complete and fearless transparency over the excesses of government in the exercise of its powers and prerogatives.”
Cybercrime Prevention Law stopped by Supreme Court: In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court of the Philippines last October 3 effectively for 120 days stopped the Executive Department of the Philippines from implementing this highly controversial law which many are saying is “unconstitutional”.
More about Chiz: To some, it now looks very much like that Sen. Escudero will be a strong rival of each of candidates in UNA (United Nationalist Alliance), the political group that vice-president Jejomar Binay formed. To them, too, by the last hour of the filing time for certificates of candidacy, it seemed clearly to the minds of watching Filipino electors that the UNA eventually completed its senatorial slate when Chiz failed to file as among its choices. Still to them, it further more seemed that Chiz eventually became a choice senatorial bet of the present Aquino administration. Did this mean that Chiz, who was Binay’s top endorser during the vice-presidential election period, declared separation from the man whom he admired and who would become Philippine vice-president? Did that mean, too, that Binay’s group interpret that as a declaration of war with Binay?
Not so, QN and QN’s followers insist. Those observations were incorrect, and probably formed part of a black propaganda unleashed against Chiz. Chiz was among three popular personalities adopted by UNA as among its bets for senator, the other two being senator Loren Legarda and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairman Grace Poe-Llamanzares. Chiz was also adopted by the Liberal Party, the political party of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Chiz filed his COC last October 2 as an independent candidate.
Here’s a statement from Chiz’s camp that should settle all issues against him:
‘Senator Chiz Escudero said a smear campaign against him has been launched to coincide with his bid to seek another term in the Senate next year. “It has become evident that there are some people who wish to destroy my name and character. A smear campaign appears to be underway to malign me. Even before I filed my certificate of candidacy (on Tuesday), I have already received reports of such mudslinging,” Escudero said.
‘The senator said he had been informed by members of media that text messages have been circulating alleging that he had authored or would pass legislation that would trim the salaries of government workers. “There is no such bill. It is really disappointing how those behind this smear campaign can conduct such black propaganda, disappointing because it insults me but, more importantly, insults the Filipino people. Maliwanag na napakaliit ng tingin at kawalan ng paggalang sa mga botante natin ang ganyang kababawan,” Escudero said. He stressed that such a measure would be unconstitutional.
‘The senator had earlier pushed for a bill granting monthly pensions to retired government workers upon reaching the age of 70. He filed Senate Bill 2106, titled “An Act to Grant Monthly Pension to Government Retirees under RA 161 Who Have Reached the Age of Seventy Years,” which provides gratuity to government pensioners.
‘“The mudslinging and misinformation are part of election fever, I suppose, which makes it all the more disappointing. This is one of the things that we hope to change, this kind of politics. There is no room for it in a reformed political environment,” he added.
‘The senator filed his certificate of candidacy on Tuesday at the Commission on Elections office as an independent candidate but was adopted as a guest candidate by both the Liberal Party and United Nationalist Alliance coalitions. Escudero came out number one in the most recent survey of the Social Weather Stations polling firm and second in a similar survey conducted by another polling agency, Pulse Asia.
‘“I have served as congressman and senator since 1998. I should be used to this campaigning by now but I am not. It’s
just further proof that the task of change and reform is still a work in progress and that we should not let down our guard against traditional politics and corruption,” the senator said.’
COURAGE Party-List Disqualified by Comelec: As known to many, I , myself being a government employee and a former regional public information officer for Region 8 of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), under then regional chairman Ruben Manatad, was among those who helped expand the list of members that was necessary for the qualification of Courage Government Employees Partylist (COURAGE) as a party-list. That was during its first attempt to become a party-list. COURAGE didn’t, however, make it to the May 2010 elections. That had not hurt me, for all the while I was entertaining the hope that one day, it could get its wish. For the 2013 elections, the Commission on Elections denied COURAGE’s petition for registration as a party-list. In short, COURAGE party-list is disqualified. But look here. It still has a chance. According to the Comelec, COURAGE and 28 others that had been denied by the Comelec’s First and Second divisions may obtain a favorable rule when the highest poll body of the Philippines sits en banc to consider their motions for reconsideration.
“Our enemies are all those in league with imperialism – the warlords, the bureaucrats, the comprador class, the big Landlord class and the reactionary section of the intelligentsia attached to them. The leading force in our revolution is the industrial proletariat. Our closest friends are the entire semi-proletariat and petty bourgeoisie. As for the vacillating middle bourgeoisie, their right-wing may become our enemy and their left-wing may become our friend – but we must be constantly on our guard and not let them create confusion within our ranks..” – Mao Tse Tung
By: Chito Dela Torre
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