MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A few hours after praising the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and saying it was society's weapon against bloggers, the National Press Club (NPC) has retracted its statement and issued an apology.
The retraction followed an outpouring of criticism on the NPC's support for the new law that expands coverage of libel.
In its original statement, the NPC said the group was part of the fight to decriminalize libel.
However, it claimed that the anti-cybercrime law only targets "so-called bloggers and other unscrupulous authors of damaging remarks against any person."
"Many of these often anonymous elements are masquerading as 'legitimate' members of the press," the initial NPC statement said. "These are the people who hide in the cloak of anonymity by coming out with bogus Internet accounts to destroy other people’s lives and reputation."
NPC president Benny Antiporda later explained that the club actually meant "cyber-bullies" instead of the the more generic term "bloggers" in their initial statement.
Here is the text of the NPC retraction:
"The National Press Club of the Philippines retracts its statement lauding the signing of the Cybercrime Law (Republic Act 10175) into law by President Benigno Aquino III.
The National Press Club also apologizes for any offense it may have caused to bloggers, citizen journalists and campus journalists, who may have felt included in the statements made by NPC president Benny Antiporda in the text of the NPC's earlier statement.
'We sincerely apologize to the bloggers, citizen journalists and campus journalists whom our statement may have offended,' Antiporda said. 'We intended no offense and we offer our sincerest apologies as we retract our statement.'
'What we wanted to stress in that statement was that there must be responsibility and accountability in making information public online, as well as offline, in other media,' he said.
Antiporda also said the NPC will continue its efforts to push for the decriminalization of libel so that the existing libel law under the Revised Penal Code.
'We will also continue to push for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill,' he added." - with a report from Inday Espina-Varona, ABS-CBN News