Valencia protesters to SC: declare cybercrime law “unconstitutional”

08 February Dan cybercrimeVALENCIA CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/06 January) Youth in this city and nearby areas gathered here Wednesday at the city’s Plaza Rizal to light candles, march, and express their opposition to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 seeking for it to be declared “unconstitutional.”

Participants of the candle lighting and march, led by Kabataan Partlist-Bukidnon wore black shirts to show their disapproval of the said law.

“We want total abolishment of the law,” said Mark Duyan, Regional Coordinator of Kabataan Partylist

On February 5, the Supreme Court (SC) extended a temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued on October 9, 2012 against the implementation of the law. The TRO was supposed to expire on February 6.

The High Court informed news organizations through a text message that they have extended the effectivity of the TRO “until the Court orders otherwise.”

While they were one in expressing their disappointment to the law, some of the participants at the protest march, however, do not share the same sentiment as the organizers.

Others stressed opposition only on the online libel clause.

“The law is good, what we are opposing is only the online libel,” said one participant who declined to give her name.

The law or some provisions of it is a clear violation of the basic constitutional right enshrined under Section 4 of the Bill of Rights, said most of the youth protesters.

Section 4 of the Bill of Rights provides: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances”.

“We want to junk cybercrime law,” said Stiffany Paluga, Kabataan Partylist Provincial Coordinator.

Most of the protesters, organizers said, were internet citizens or netizens who mainly use the internet to express their sentiments on social issues towards the government and its officials.

With the law, the protesters feared that they no longer have freedom of expression, they added.

“Ang tumong niini [nga balaod] mao ang pagtago sa gobyerno sa dili pagdawat sa mga pagsaway,” (The law’s intent is for government to defuse criticism) Paluga added.

Duyan said the penalty for online libel is very heavy. He added that it is higher compared to libel (under Article 355 of Revised Penal Code, as amended).

One thing that stirred the emotions of the netizens is the vagueness of Section 4 of RA 10175 which states, “…[C]ommitted through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

Netizens feared that the government might curb and control the use of the Internet which has now become an effective venue for democratic discussions and used as a tool of exercising political rights.

The RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed by President Benigno Aquino III on Sept. 17, 2012.

Kabataan partylist also pushed for the passage of House Bill 6818 or the Internet Freedom Bill or the Magna Carta for Internet Users which seeks to promote and protect the rights of Internet users. (Daniel V. Mental/BukidnonNews.Net)