Angara defends cybercrime law, seeks amendments

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2012 05:29 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2012 10:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - There is no reason to fear the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, its author and sponsor in the Senate said amid outrage over the law on the first day of its effectivity on Wednesday, October 3.

However, Sen. Edgardo Angara admitted that the measure he pushed for has flaws and said he will propose revising certain parts of it.

"Some of us are alarming the public unduly," he told reporters.

"There is really nothing to fear. This fear is self-created."

Angara believes there is nothing objectionable about the law's provision on online libel, which has drawn flak from those who fear it would stifle freedom of expression on the Internet.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III proposed the inclusion of the libel clause in the Senate's version of the bill during the period of amendments last January 24. No senator objected to it.

"Why not? You mean the cyberspace is a zone of impunity that you can now begin to lambast maliciously your enemies without fear of any sanction at all?" Angara said when asked to react to people opposing the libel provision.

He added, however, that he himself has reservations about the bill's provision that imposes higher penalties for crimes under the Revised Penal Code if they are committed online.

At the resumption of sessions next week, Angara will file  a bill amending this and another controversial provision: that giving the Justice Department the authority to block computer data or Internet sites if they are seen to violate provisions of the law at face value.

"What I will propose is that the DOJ can only do that upon a court order. I will import the principles of a search warrant and arrest into his thing," he explained.

While the Supreme Court has yet to decide on petitions questioning certain portions of the law, Angara called on the DOJ to suspend the implementation of this so-called "take-down" provision found in section 19

Angara admitted that the cybercrime law is not perfect, but that it is a good law overall.

He cited the recent hacking of government web sites as proof of the need for rules governing the Internet.

"Otherwise, we will be operating in a large, large universe without rules."

"By and large," Angara said, "don't forget we will be worse off without a Cybercrime Prevention Act."