Should I now go to jail for stating this opinion? The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 seems to go overboard by criminalizing libel further. The new law increased the penalty for libel to prison mayor from the current prison correctional under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and worst it even violated our commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on freedom of expression,
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 also punishes cybersex. In a personal view I see nothing wrong with engaging in cybersex as long as it is not an act of crime or prostitution for that matter. A general definition of cybersex in the law states that by their definition cybersex is...
"The willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration."
The term "for favor or consideration" denotes prostitution therefore the term should not be cybersex but instead cyber prostitution. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 should have prohibited "cyber prostitution" because it is the one that is illegal and a crime.
The law does not also specify who is liable for liable meaning editors or owners of sites like Twitter and Facebook might be forced to lock down their websites and prevent people from commenting. Bloggers will also be affected since adverse comments might also fall on the blame of bloggers articles and they might be hold liable both civilly and criminally for these comments.
By virtue of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 electronic libel is now punished with imprisonment from 6 years and one day to up to 12 years. Moreover this offense is non-parole eligible since it is an imprisonment that is beyond the parole limit. The Philippines therefore is now one of the most restrictive country in the world when it comes to freedom of expression online.
"Since the Philippines leads the rest of the world in terms of Facebook and Twitter usage, this means that unlike ordinary libel complaints which are oftentimes brought against printed newspapers -- given the element of publication -- any user of these leading social media tools is now liable for prosecution since the fact that an allegedly libelous writing appeared on the internet is already sufficient to prove the element of publication," says Harry Roque in his article entitled "Cybrecrime law: See you in court, Pnoy."
It is also surprising that while we opposed PICPA and ACTA abroad it seems that we failed to oppose or rather our opposition fell on deaf ears when our lawmakers and President PNoy signs the Philippine Cybercime Law into a law.
Sen. TJ Guingona one of those who opposed the law said that, "some parts of the law attempt to legislate morality and penalize people for breaching accepted standards."
“I feel that as legislators, we have no right to dictate what people should or should not see,” he further said as published in an article on the Philippine Star.
Senator Chiz Escudero himself admitted that he failed to scrutinize the law and recognize its defects but amendments will not surely come in the near future because after all a law is a law. The recourse for this is a declaration from the Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional.
By the decision itself of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights, it stated that criminal libel is against the International Convention on Human Rights so therefore why had been enacted into law in the first place? Why is a country which so proudly yells its democracy now curtail freedom of expression to the highest level online?
A profound and rich internet is now curtailed by a law which seems to come from a misinformed legislature as alleged by those who are opposing it. It also makes new media writers liable for expressing their opinion online.
Now where is freedom? You better be careful of your Twitter, Facebook and social media posts now guys. Who wants to go to jail first? Ey.... any volunteers? I wonder how many of us would be?