SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
A law that was supposed to protect children from trafficking and Internet exploitation ended up becoming a law to crack down on opponents of the Aquino administration after Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, and others, added a “libel provision” to the bill.
After the the passage of the bill various human rights groups and pro-people organizations have denounced the bill as an attack on opponents of the Aquino administration and various national democratic organizations.
Quoted in an Inquirer article Senator Teofisto Guingona III said the bill had “confusing and vague provisions that suppresses the citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression. Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually, any person can now be charged with a crime—even if you just like, retweet or comment on an online update or blog post containing criticisms.”
Karapatan attacked the bill as being an affront to free speech and human rights:
“Gauging from the reactions of the netizens, the government failed to achieve the chilling effect with the cybercrime law, that now paves the way for e-martial law. Still, citizens and human rights defenders, especially those with advocacies that utilize the internet as a platform, become increasingly vulnerable to harassment by the government; unless the law is junked,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Karapatan echoed the position of the online users that the Cybercrime law violates the people’s Constitutional rights as the law infringes on the rights to free speech and privacy. “Many people have been killed, disappeared, arrested and tortured under the Noynoy Aquino government because they speak out the truth, they criticize government policies that are detrimental to the people. Now, the government has brought its battle against the people on the cyberspace.”
“It also worries us that a medium where we can express the human rights situation in the country would be subjected to these restrictions. Even without the cybercrime law, facts and news on extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances, bombings of communities that exist under the Aquino administration are most often marginalized. What, with the cybercrime law?” added Palabay.
Karapatan will join the protest action set on October 2, at the Supreme Court. Together with several human rights and people’s organizations, Karapatan is also preparing to question the constitutionality of the recently passed measure at the High Court.