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Statements on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

Statement from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

The enactment of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was, to say the least, sneaky and betrays this administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression – nil.

The inclusion of libel among the crimes that may be committed with the use of computers poses a threat not only against the media and other communicators but anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet.

Compare the haste with which this measure and the Data Privacy Act became law, compared to Congress’ lethargy on a bill that President Benigno Aquino III has repeatedly declared a priority yet never lifted a finger to help shepherd through the legislative mill – the Freedom of Information Act – and it becomes all too apparent that this president never meant anything he said with respect to our rights and our freedoms.

Indeed, provisions of the Data Privacy Act further restrict access to information.

And the Cybercrime Prevention Act actually broadens the scope of a libel law so antiquated and draconian that the United Nations Human Rights Council itself declared it excessive and called on the Philippine government to review the law with the end of decriminalizing libel.

We have time and again aired our suspicions that this president was no friend of press freedom, what with his apathy toward the continued murders, assaults and threats on our ranks and his penchant for whining and blaming media for delivering the news instead of singing his praises.

The passage of these new laws confirms those suspicions and unmasks his real intent.

But, as we have said, also time and again, with no fear of being proven wrong, that the reason the Philippine press remains free is because Filipino journalists insist it remain so. We are certain bloggers, netizens and all those who value freedom of expression share these sentiments, whatever the Cybercrime Prevention Act says.

Statement from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on the act’s libel provision

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in expressing serious concern thatthe newly enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act 2012 poses a significant threat to press freedom and limits freedom of expression in the Philippines.

The new laws enacted under the Act which was passed last week, have been criticised by the NUJP and international media groups for the inclusion of libel among the crimes that may be committed online.

The NUJP believe that the Act is a threat not only to the media but to any member of the public with access to the Internet, as it broadens the scope of the libel law to include online expression.

The United Nations Human Rights Council declared the Philippines’ libel law to be excessive and incompatible with international human rights law, in October 2011.

The NUJP said the enactment of the new law “was, to say the least, sneaky and betrays this [the Aquino] administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression” and that it clearly shows the world that the Aquino Government is “no friend of press freedom.”

The government enacted the Cybercrime Prevention Act while ratification of the Freedom of Information Act continues to be delayed more than 20 years after an FOI bill was first filed.

“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 bill, which clearly stands against their stated commitment to press freedom.”

From: National Union of Journalists of the Philippines’ website

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