Freedom to Speak Responsibly

The Philippines is one of the most democratic countries in the world. And, as a proof of that, execution of Republic Act No. 10175, the so-called “Anti-Cyber Crime Law,” is temporarily halted for 120 days. Many contested and protested the law, especially on the provision on libel, which allegedly was added to the law as a mere after-thought. Facebook became a sea of black squares and dots and faceless contacts. People are divided, but maybe not as divided as the RH Bill(?).

With the issuance of the TRO, I believe the Supreme Court is upholding our freedom to speak (and write) our thoughts without fear of punishment. I would also like to believe that the Supreme Court is against plagiarism and should impose serious punishments on judges and justices, and their researchers, who copy information and use that information without proper attribution. Plagiarism is a serious offense, much serious than libel. Responsible writers spend hours making the proper citations in respect of the hard work done by the original author.

Is the anti-cyber crime law necessary? It is not necessary with respect to libel. There is a move to de-criminalize libel, and I believe that words, no matter how “defamatory,” if thrown against an elected official, are not libelous. I believe those are part of the “checks and balance” system. Damn, we mere mortals work hard for our elected officials to get rich, and they get jailed in Hong Kong for drug possession and they sue us for libel(!!!).

For other cyber crimes, is the anti-cyber crime law necessary? Yes, because it means putting child pornographers and scammers to jail. But rather than lump them into one anti-cyber crime law, why don’t the lawmakers make separate laws for each cyber crime — one for child pornography, one for cyber sex, one for hacking, etc.  And, while they’re at it, why not make another law punishing cyber bullies? I think only politicians, celebrities and well-known people are subjected to libel, but there are thousands of civilians subjected to cyber bullying every day. And, that is scary.

The Philippines is one of the most democratic countries in the world. Our freedom of speech is enshrined in our Constitution. May we continue to have that freedom of speech, and may we make it our duty to be RESPONSIBLE mediums of information. May we continue to be able to speak, and listen, freely.


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