MANILA – A blogger and officer of campaigns platform Change.org Philippines expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the online libel provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Inday Espina-Varona, campaigns director of Change.org Philippines, said corrupt politicians and other erring powerful individuals could use the measure to silence those who are trying to expose them.
She said the measure runs counter to the Aquino administration's anti-corruption platform, popularly known as "Daang Matuwid."
"It's back to the dark ages. In the digital age, in an age where governments across the globe, including our government, are asking Filipinos to help in monitoring corruption - tell us about corrupt people, call our attention to abuses, negligence, inefficiency - here comes online libel," Espina-Varona told ANC.
"The problem with online libel is this: A lot of warlords and powerful people across the country are going to be encouraged to be vindictive. It's not going to be very difficult for vindictive people to use online libel as a weapon to harass local dissent in their communities."
Espina-Varona said online libel puts ordinary citizens in a vulnerable situation, saying that unlike journalists, they do not have the resources of media entities and companies at their disposal.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that online libel provision in the controversial law is constitutional. However, it struck down the all-encompassing power of the Department of Justice to just take down computer data.
SC spokesman Theodore Te said section 4 (c) (4) of the Anti-Cybercime Act, or the provision penalizing libel – is constitutional “with respect to the original author of the post.”
The SC did not allow, however, a penalty for those "who simply receive, post, react to the [message]."
The court also upheld provisions penalizing cyber-squatting, computer fraud, identity theft and gaining illegal access through a computer. – with ANC