PNoy Declares Online Libel Remains in Cybercrime Law
MANILA, Philippines - Despite mounting pressure to reconsider the anti-cybercrime law that supposedly curtails free speech, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday declared that online libel should remain an offense in the controversial measure.
The President, however, assured that he remains open to any proposed amendments to the Cybercrime Prevention Act, particularly on easing the penalties for online libel, but insisted that he must implement the law for now or risk being impeached from office.
"On the libel provision, I do not agree that it should be removed," the President said in Filipino during a press conference after leading the oathtaking rites of new Liberal Party members in Pampanga.
"If you write something libelous, you're liable. If you're a broadcaster and air it on radio or TV, you're also liable. When it comes out in the Internet that's still libelous. Whatever format it is, the person whose rights were impinged should have redress,'' he added.
If some sectors think the penalty against libel is too high, the President pointed out, that the law can still be amended. Under the cybercrime law, those who commit computer-related libel can be jailed from six years to 12 years in prison.
The President maintained that the government must implement the new law to combat criminal activities in the Internet, adding that it is up to Congress to amend the cybercrime law or the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional.
"Since the law is in effect, we have to enforce it. I can be impeached for dereliction of duty if I do not enforce the laws of the country," he said.
The President also made clear that his administration was "not for suppression of free speech" but reminded the public that freedom comes with responsibility. …