MANILA, Philippines - The "matuwid na maan" of President Benigno Aquino III has gone astray.
This is the lament of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) after the President said he does not agree with the clamor to remove the online libel provision in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
In an interview this morning in Pampanga, Aquino said: "I do not agree that the provision on online libel should be removed. Whatever the format is, if it is libelous, then there should be some form of redress available to the victims."
NUJP secretary general Rowena Paraan said the President's statement only proves that the Filipino people "are not his bosses at all, if we ever were in the first place."
Paraan said the law is "clearly unjust," and that the only response to it is resistance and defiance.
The NUJP urged "all Filipino journalists and news organizations to stand up to this brazen attempt to wrest away our rights and liberties."
"We call on the Filipino people to stand up and defend our right to freedom of expression," Paraan said.
The Supreme Court has received at least 10 petitions to strike down controversial provisions in the new anti-Cybercrime Law including the one on online libel.
Under the law, any form of libel committed online could be punished by up to 12 years imprisonment.