MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Thursday condemned the defacement of several government websites, which was allegedly done to protest the passage of the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
In a text message, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said the defacement is "an act of vandalism that does not win them any sympathy."
Similarly, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters: "There should be no fear in expressing oneself (but) we should be reminded that responsibility should be present in cyberspace. "
He added that no sensitive materials were lifted from the hacked government websites.
Asked for the President's opinion about the defacement, he said: "Ang position lang ng Pangulo ay may responsibilidad din dapat sa cyberspace."
Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III and Internet law expert JJ Disini also condemned the incident despite their own misgivings about the new cybercrime measure.
Guingona told a forum that everyone "should work to craft responsible blogging rules and hacking should never be allowed."
Disini said the defacement is a violation of the law and will not change anything. Red Tani of the Filipino Free Thinkers also did not condone the defacement but said he understands the hackers' sentiments.
Front pages of 7 websites were defaced Wednesday night and replaced by the logo of "Anonymous Philippines." The websites belong to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' (BSP), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), American Chamber of Commerce in Philippines, Philippine Anti-Piracy Team, Department of Environment in Region 3, Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis and the Department of Health's Anti-Smoking program.
A "Rage Against The Machine" track, "Freedom," played in the background of the hacked websites.
"Anonymous Philippines," in a statement on the websites, said the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10175), "is the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the Philippines."
"The language of the bill is cunningly designed to make you think it only applies to individuals who are deep in cyber-technology and doesn't apply to everyone, but some part of the bill basically says it can imprison anyone who commits libel either by written messages, comments, blogs, or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other comment-spaces of other social media in the Internet," the statement read.
"It is just so disappointing that our government, in adopting our 80-year-old antiquated libel laws to the Cybercrime Law, again seems to have retarded our march with the rest of the world with respect to giving full force to the people's freedom of expression," it added.
Three petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court asking it to strike down several provisions of RA Act 10175, particularly on online libel, the authority given to the Department of Justice to block websites even without a court review, and the warrantless monitoring of electronic data.
Cybercrime Act unconstitutional
Guingona, meanwhile, pointed out that the new Cybercrime Act has unconstitutional provisions.
He said the law denies equal protection for people charged with libel. He said a person found guilty of libel under the Revised Penal Code can face jail of up to 4 years while online libel is punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment.
Guingona also said the provisions of double jeopardy do not apply under the new cybercrime law. He said a person can be charged with libel and violation of the new law at the same time.
Thirdly, he said the new law gives the Secretary of Justice vast powers to order any website blocked even without a court review. -- With a report from Gretchen Malalad, ABS-CBN News