The Philippines hit the headlines once again. Thanks to its controversial Cybercrime Law which took effect today.
When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded like Martial Law. Not that I know alot about Martial Law, it’s just that when I was a kid during the Martial Law days I was always reminded by my Mom not to mention the name Marcos (Ferdinand Marcos) aloud whenever I would play in the streets. At a young age, I was already forbidden to say anything that the government might not like. For some reason, it felt like this new law is doing that to me, again.
Anyway, it’s really nice that there is now a Philippine Cybercrime Law. It’s about time. It’s just that this new law is not only intended to prevent cybersex, online child pornography, spamming and identity theft. It also makes libel, including comments made on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and even on blogs, a cybercrime punishable by up to 12 years in jail.
I like the way Tashi explained the Cybercrime Law to our friend Ruth – ” Let’s say the government does something you don’t like, so you post it on Facebook saying, “the government sucks.” Woah! That’s defamatory! We’ll have to lock you up for up to 12 years and or charge you 1,000,000 pesos. That’s the short of it. Government will say they need laws like these to fight hacking, identity theft etc. etc. But that’s the slope that lets people who like to abuse power apply those laws to everybody, not just to criminals because it was never intended to fight crime. Its ultimate intent is to silence people.”
Unfortunately, without a temporary restraining order due to the high court failing to act on the various petitions filed against the new law (yeah, what else is new so-called public servants?) the cybercrime law took effect today.
As of this writing, the controversy about the new law has already spread around the world drawing criticisms from several organizations. It is my sincere hope that the Philippine government will correct this grave mistake. Just like what Miriam Defensor Santiago said – “Otherwise, it will be a black, black day for freedom of speech.” Indeed.
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