Vindicated Sotto: Senate was right on online libel

by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2014 05:06 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2014 01:06 AM

Other lawmakers gearing to repeal parts of Anti-Cybercrime Law

MANILA - Senator Vicente Sotto III is elated over the latest decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the constitutionality of penalizing online libel.

"They will now realize that the Senate is right,” said Sotto, who had been subject to online criticisms in the past.

"Hindi magandang naninira ka ng reputasyon, hindi magandang naninira ka ng kapwa mo," he added.

Sotto received online flak in 2012 for allegedly plagiarizing the work of other people.

He said he is bewildered that it has to take the Supreme Court to tell people that "libel is libel".

He believes, however, that there are more responsible netizens in the country than those who are not. It was Sotto who proposed the provision on online libel in the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, believes that Congress still has the power to repeal the libel provision in the law.

"Mahirap naman kung lahat pwedeng i-libel sa Internet, that will kill freedom of speech," he said. "Sa Internet, anyone can say anything. Hindi tayo dapat balat-sibuyas dyan.”

Senator Sonny Angara said Congress should study the consequences of the SC decisions. "Siguro pag- aralan ito ng Congress given the uproar on social media.”

The neophyte senator said he is for decriminalization of libel.

Senator Francis Escudero said he has also filed a bill to decriminalize libel. He believes it still should be part of the law but he wants to reduce the penalty to civil liabilities, meaning no imprisonment for any offender.

"Dapat wala nang libel na pinarurusahan ng pagkakakulong," Escudero said.

He believes the cybercrime law in its entirety is still important to curb crimes happening with new technologies.