'Chris Lao should have filed for libel'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2012 09:43 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2012 10:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - He was the subject of insults from the faceless and the nameless after he drove his car through a flooded Metro Manila street.

His outburst went viral online.
   
A year after the incident, lawyer Christopher Lao admits he hasn't moved on.

"Until now, I'm suicidal," he told the "ANC Presents: Cybercrime" forum on Wednesday.

He said he wanted people  caught and punished "for debasing somebody, ripping apart my dignity."

This is why Lao is supporting the Cybercrime Prevention Act's highly disputed online libel provision.

But blogger Tonyo Cruz, a petitioner against RA 10175 pointed out that the new law has no provision on cyberbullying.

"I can't imagine what Chris went through but it would've been different had this law included cyberbullying. But it's not there. That is an important thing to state. More people are understanding what he went through, but this law won't address that. This law won't be able to scare abusers. It scares everybody," Cruz said.

For former Rep. Teddy Locsin Jr., Lao should have gone to court and filed a libel case even without the cybercrime law.

"If it's insulting you, it's libel, go to court. Court will say, 'We know you're insulted but we don't know who insulted you.' The difference here is when I insult, Ellen insults, we are known. Now you pass a law punishing people like us who have the guts to show our face because you can't punish those hiding behind an egg avatar. I don't understand that," Locsin said.

Efforts are also underway for Congress to decriminalize libel.

Decriminalization means prison will no longer be a penalty for libel, but complainants will be allowed to file a civil case to collect for damages.

Still, authorities and some IT experts defended the controversial cybercrimelaw, saying it gives teeth to law enforcement.

NBI special investigator Joey Narciso said the law empowers them in gathering evidence in crimes committed online.

Information security expert Drexx Laggui added that the law provides heavy penalties against cybercriminals.

But another petitioner against the cybercrime law, Atty. JJ Disini, warned that the law also allows unwarranted surveillance.

"If you look at the wording of law, it says traffic data for a specific communication, an indication there's a particular target. Just the information of what number a person calls gives indication of what is discussed. To me that constitutes surveillance without warrant," he said.

Some congressmen believe the Supreme Court's 120-day TRO would give them time to amend RA 10175.

But Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño is wary of President Benigno Aquino's support for the law.

"The 120 days give us enough time, but Malacanang is standing by the law. That sends signal to Congress, 'don't mess with it," he said.

The Justice Department said the law can still be improved.

"We're looking at the Cybercrime Prevention Act as version 1.0. It's something that we can't get perfect at first version," DOJ Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy said. "If there are bugs to fix, the Supreme Court will find out what these bugs are and we'll continue to fix it."

House Committee on Information and Communications Technology chairman, Representative Freddie Tinga said the House will hold a Committee hearing before Christmas to resolve issues on the controversial law. - ANC