Lawmakers who rushed to pass Cybercrime Law are now rushing to amend it

There is enough evidence to suggest that the passing of the Cybercrime Law was railroaded or rushed to avoid further scrutiny by the members of Congress. First, Senator Chiz Escudero quickly admitted “it was a personal oversight that the clause including libel among the crimes punishable under the new law was inserted in the committee report when the Senate voted for its passage”. Now, there are a few more members of Congress who are distancing themselves from the ill-thought out law particularly the provision that includes criminalizing any statement made online that can be construed as libelous.

Some members of Congress are claiming they were not informed about the provision on libel inserted into RA 10175.

Some of those who voted for the passing of the law in the senate have spoken about their own disappointment over the inclusion of the libel clause without their knowledge. It was reported that it was Sen. Vicente Sotto III who proposed the inclusion of the libel clause in the Senate’s version of the bill during the period of amendments last January 24. And no senator objected to it. Here’s what Senator Bongbong Marcos had to say about it:

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The Cyber Crime Bill has been passed into law and that is it for now. The Committee Report that I signed did not contain the Libel Clause. The records will show that when the Libel Clause was introduced and approved on the same day, I was away on “official business.” This is no time to make excuses nor to blame anyone for what I cannot agree to with regards the Libel Clause. Having said that, I would rather be accused of a lapse in supervision than not do anything to correct it.

For her part, Senator Pia Cayetano was forced to admit on her Twitter account that “…when amendment was made (to the bill), no one really noticed, not media, not netizens and sadly not me…”

San Juan representative, Congressman JV Ejercito also expressed his opposition to the libel clause stating that “while I was once a victim of cyber abuse, I am against curtailing freedom of expression. I am for the amendment of the law.”

Zambales Representative Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay also revealed that some members of Congress including her were not “informed” of the changes in the bill:

“When we passed the House version wala pa yun”¦ attendees to the bicameral committee never informed us na nagka-changes sa version namin,” Magsaysay said.

This was also what Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara recalled during a recent interview with the media, saying that as one of the authors, he did not remember such provisions during their deliberations.

Assuming it is true that Senator Marcos was “absent” during the session when the libel clause was introduced, there really is no excuse for those who were present but did not even notice its inclusion. It seems like the “bahala na” mentality was at work yet again. One can also be forgiven for thinking that the inclusion of the clause might have been deliberately kept from further scrutiny so as not to delay the passing of the bill. Some people are even thinking that Senator Sotto’s star power had worked to charm President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino into signing the bill into law without thinking of its future implications.

A lot of people have also noticed that there seems to be a pattern of “railroading” or “shortcutting” of events or processes being carried out by our public servants under the present administration. We recall that the filing of impeachment complaints against former Chief Justice Renato Corona was also allegedly railroaded at the start by the House of Representatives and then rushed towards its end by the Senate. The reason, it seems, is an alleged need to comply with orders from the Chief Executive who could not wait to get rid of Corona from the post of Chief Justice. At that time, some members of the media who are said to be allied with the incumbent President “BS” Aquino III were helping out publish unfounded allegations or libelous statements against Corona just to rile up the public.

These senators are now rushing to air their pledges to seek the filing of amendments to the cybercrime law specifically to amend the provision on libel as soon as possible. Ironically, the author of the bill, Senator Edgardo Angara is also one of those who is now promising to amend it. He says that he has “reservations about the bill’s provision that imposes higher penalties for crimes under the Revised Penal Code if they are committed online.” He will also propose to give the Department Of Justice the authority to block computer data or Internet sites only upon issuance of a court order. He also promises to “import the principles of a search warrant and arrest” into the bill.

The amount of time, energy and resources our lawmakers are wasting on problems they themselves created is truly incredible. While the Philippines is plagued with so many problems, public officials thought protecting their egos is more important than anything else. Even various media and human rights organizations have weighed in on the uproar:

Human Rights Watch’s Asia director Brad Adams, in a statement, said the new law “needs to be repealed or replaced” because it “violates Filipinos’ rights to free expression” and runs counter to the government’s “obligations under international law.”

The International Federation of Journalists, on the other hand, joined its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, in criticizing the law.

“The IFJ is greatly concerned that the inclusion of online content in the Act could be used to curtail freedom of expression online,” said the IFJ Asia Pacific. “We are further concerned that the government of the Philippines continues to delay the passing of the FOI (Freedom of Information) bill, which clearly stands against their stated commitment to press freedom.”

Earlier, the NUJP called the enactment of the anti-cybercrime law “sneaky and betrays this [the Aquino] administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression.”

Not surprisingly, Malacañang has now shifted to damage control by issuing a guarantee that “no government entity has moved to deprive anyone of access to the Internet or to suppress civil liberties as exercised online.” Presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda is now appealing for people to calm down and participate in a dialogue to craft the Implementing Rules and Regulations. Yeah, right. That is very reactive of him. If only the lawmakers held a dialogue with the people before passing the law to begin with, they could have avoided the furor railroading the law has caused.

Obviously, Filipinos have come to love the freedom they enjoy criticizing their government. There’s just no way onion-skinned lawmakers can take that away without the people putting up a fight. Criticizing is still a novelty that social media has introduced to a society not yet mature enough to handle the power they posses over their public servants. Once Filipinos realize that they can actually change the behavior of their public servants through actively participating in the discussions in the running of the country, that’s when Filipinos can truly hope for a better future.

37 Replies to “Lawmakers who rushed to pass Cybercrime Law are now rushing to amend it”

  1. I say revise the law, amend provisions on libel and incorporate provisions on plagiarism, with stiffer penalties for the latter! This law is not only one-sided but obscure.

    1. Lawmakers are spoiled and irresponsible practitioners of the freedom of speech. Imagine they are cloaked with parliamentary immunity while delivering venom in Congress halls, yet they are suppressing people’s opinions on the Internet. Disgusting.

  2. We want the CyberCrime Law to be REPEAlED. It is a violation of the Freedom of Expression. We are Citizen Bloggers. We want our voices be heard also….
    I don’t believe the Senators’ Oversight reasons. They sold us to the Aquinos….the same they destroyed the Judiciary…
    Do not vote for the Senators, who voted for this law. Sinotto pa tayo, ang mga tarantado…

    1. Hoy…mag-ingat ka…mayroon silang witnesses na may “Bayong” cover sa ulo. Ituturo Ka….Aquino’s Kempetai…

  3. The people who signed this bill into law are being laughed at INTERNATIONALLY.Believe it or not people around the globe are up in arms over this law,many are laughing at the idiots who admit they did not read the whole article.Senators signing laws they are not reading,lol!The incompetence is staggering.
    Many people thought Gloria would rot in prison for looting the treasury and,typically,she did not spend one second in jail and it is as if all she did never happened.
    FILIPINO’S,your rights have been taken from you ,just like everywhere else and you can scream and bitch and blog all you want,BUT it will not make one bit of difference.You are being screwed and you shall,as usual,do NOTHING ABOUT IT THAT MATTERS.

  4. BTW,does anyone believe that any of the people involved did not know what they were doing/signing?oops,we made a mistake and now you all must live with it.
    what a steamy pile of crap the whole,oops…better not type it!!!!

  5. A better future?in the Philippines? HA,running for your life,sister,is a better idea.Seriously,anyone who can get out of this country,AND NEVER COME BACK,should do so immediately.

  6. Dear Senators,

    Please seek help/advice from prestigious IT professors from good schools if you’re planning to amend it. Please make sure that the law is unbiased and well thought of from A-Z. We Filipinos still trust your good judgment.

  7. “Once Filipinos realize that they can actually change the behavior of their public servants through actively participating in the discussions in the running of the country, that’s when Filipinos can truly hope for a better future.”

    Love it.

  8. well sana i revised or i amend yung law or else we will be pissed and even the irr cannot cure the defects of that law kaya sana ung say ko ay gawin nila.

  9. So, they sign bills without reading them? How many bills have they passed without having read the final version? If not them, what about their staff? This is really almost unforgivable, that they rock the nation because of their carelessness… with all our taxes they use for their expenses, they come up with a law that they have not read!!!

  10. Think about it, when the mainstream media has once again diverted the consuming public’s attention away from this issue, it would look like that the legislators who have successfully amended the Cybercrime Law would have the greater number of votes for the 2013 elections, and by the time they get elected, the Freedom of Information bill could be passed to ensure that both reelectionists and the newcomers would reinforce the so-called responsibility and the illusion of a clean slate.

    Of course, the Reproductive Health bill could be used as a filler and media fodder for their supposed work any day of the week.



    Avoid becoming a victim of this hideous law,it has been passed.When someone says they did not read it,with personal credibility in question,why would anyone believe that?It is too late,exit the country as soon as you can,if you can.

  12. AND ALSO REMEMBER,do not EVER admit that you posted something.It is almost impossible to prove that you posted something,just because it is done in your account.How many times have you gone off-line and left your e-mail account open?
    Even if someone sees you hit ‘send’ it is impossible to prove you did it.

  13. Atat na atat na talaga silang ma-protektahan ang sarili nilang mga katarantaduhan! At least si Gloria ‘di niya ginawa ito… (or so I think) Well, sorry na lang sa mga senatong na ‘to pero as for me, na-overcome ko na ang pagiging pikon ko…

    And I;d say this is another legacy of what protectionism gave us. We always tried to insulate ourselves from wbat’s really happening and kept on deluding ourselves that everything IS indeed alright. Thus, we never learned…

      1. Good riddance. Gloria will be back in jail for misuse of PCSO funds. We hope its a regular jail. Justice is served once again.

        1. Justice is served once again my ass. Well, I’ll just sit by and watch rather than your arrogant boasting.

          You can never serve justice with INCOMPETENCE mind you. Now I know why you want the anti-cybercrime law to be passed because you want us to feed your lies and stop criticizing against the incompetent administration. That’s the truth, isn’t it?

          I know you won’t comment anymore since I have shown your true colors. 😛

      2. Fishball/ Dondon. why aren’t you using your regular ID? The stink is still the same though. Glad GRP can help with your quota. Say hi to the Minister of Truth for me. I love how your hero Noynoy signs the Cyberact yet takes no accountability for it. Which one of you is smarter?

        1. Still, Dondon/Fishball’s comments are considered as SPAM and will be deleted ASAP.

          That will make my day. 😀

  14. Whether the “oversight” was intentional or not the point remains is that our officials are complete and unbelievable morons…..there I said it.

    Seriously I have use for a person who can’t do his/her job well or is planning to undermine me.

    1. The cyber-crime law is already effective. But wait. The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the unconstitutionally defective law have still to be drafted. Now they want public consultations. The truth is the IRR will not cure the unconstitutional defects of the law. Are they trying to take the public for a ride?

  15. Matagal na tayong sinuSotto sa totoo lang… Remember Pepsi Paloma case.. niRape yon at pinatay para di na makapagtestify sa totoong nangyari sa kanya. pinalabas nagsuicide!! One significant matter, tumahimik lang bigla yon, was the shipment of ephedrine, raw materials sa paggawa ng Shabu.. kanino bang pakana yon? SinuSotto talaga tayo!! Kapal pa ng mukha nangungopya pa ng Speech!!

  16. So you’ve read the bills and the drafts for ten to twenty times you’d assume that nothing much has changed.

    This assumption is fatal and the law is being debated now.

    The worst part is the President’s camp who believes nothing is wrong with what they did. Now they’re also trying to save face by supporting the bill and promising things their successors are not required to keep.

  17. Can’t find anywhere how ‘cybersersex’ is defined with this law (the gov website is down… haha). Honestly, ‘cybersex’ has a very broad definition, now that it is a crime in the Philippines, what can you and cannot do?

    Does this mean ‘cybersex’ between two (or more if that strikes your fancy) consenting adults. An explicit email between partners can be counted as cybersex (lonely OFW missing their partner).

    What’s worst than an ‘attack’ on freedom of speech, is if this law means that the government has invaded the bedroom.

    1. Just like there is the Ministry of Truth and the Thought Police , when you say “is if this law means that the government has invaded the bedroom.” That is exactly what happens in 1984 “our duty to the State”

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