Miriam: SC wrong in upholding online libel

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2014 05:01 PM | Updated as of Feb 21 2014 03:33 AM

MANILA -- Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday said the Supreme Court (SC) erred in declaring the online libel provision of the Anti-Cybercrime Act as constitutional.

Santiago said under the Constitution, freedom of speech occupies the highest ranking in the Bill of Rights.

"Because of the priority given by the Bill of Rights, plus the language of the law that says 'no law shall be passed abridging freedom of speech', any law against freedom of speech is unconstitutional," Santiago said.

Santiago believes that the Internet is not operating in the same universe as radio, television and print where it is difficult to get equal space and time for someone maligned to respond.

"The Supreme Court is treating social media as a scion or successor or classification of traditional media; it is not," she said.

"It does not apply in the Internet. In the Internet, you have the full right to reply and you don't have to pay anything," Santiago explained. "It's a wide universe unlike the restricted universe of the traditional media."

Santiago said one of the remedies for those opposing the SC decision is to file a motion for reconsideration. She said, for her part, she will double her efforts to overturn the SC decision.

"I already filed my bill, I will now redouble my efforts to convince the Senate that we have to pass a new law to overturn the SC ruling but only as far as the online libel is concerned," Santiago said.

"I call on all netizens to magnify all efforts," she added.