MANILA, Philippines - Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero admitted personal oversight when the clause on libel was inserted in the recently-passed Cyber Crime Prevention Act.
At the Kapihan sa Senado, Escudero said: “Hindi ko nakita iyon noong kami ay bumoto at pumirma sa Committee Report pero maliwanag ang posisyon ko kaugnay sa bagay na iyan.”
Escudero is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The final version, Republic Act 10175, contained a provision broadening the coverage of libel. Section 4 (paragraph 4) provides that libel will cover the use of "computer system or other similar means that may be devised in the future."
He said he does not know how and who inserted the provision. On allegations it was Senator Vicente Sotto III, Escudero said: “Hindi ko rin alam at wala rin akong personal konwledge kung siya nga ang naglagay niyon. Again, kaya hindi ko nga alam ay nakalusot nga sa amin. Kung nalalaman ko, hindi sana nakalusot iyon siningit man sa anumang stage ng bill dahil sa posisyon ko kaugnay sa libel law.”
There was no negligence on the part of his colleagues because some of them also wanted to include the provision, he added.
He said the provision is not consistent with his position as a principal author of an earlier bill that decriminalizes libel.
“Sa ngalan ng pagiging consistent, kung nandyan nga iyan ay kasalukuyan nga naming pinag-aaralan ang paghain, maski na ganito kaaga, ng amendatory law para alisin at i-repeal ang provision na iyon…,” he said.
He said the amendatory bill will be filed before they resume sessions in Congress. “Itong pag-amyenda ng Cyber Crime Law within the recess. Before we resume, we will file that bill,” he said.
Several petitions seeking to quash the provision have already been filed before the Supreme Court. At least two more will be filed on Friday.