Enrile: Where was Miriam when Cybercrime law was passed?
MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Sunday, October 7, backed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 but admitted he doesn't remember the online libel provision during discussions on the law and was absent when the controversial bill was approved.
In a radio interview with DZBB, Enrile pointed to other senators who he said should have looked at the bill more closely during debates in the Senate, adding that he is busy with other duties as Senate President.
"Si [Sen] Miriam [Defensor-Santiago] ang constitutionalist namin, bakit wala siya dun? Ako naman absent ata ako nung inaprubahan yun. Hindi ko naman mauusisa lahat ng batas diyan. Andun ang minority, sila dapat ang umusisa diyan sa ginagawa ng majority," he said.
(Miriam is our constitutionalist, why wasn't she there? I think I was absent when it was passed. I can't be there to scrutinize every single bill. The minority is there, they should have studied what the majority was proposing).
Enrile however said he will leave it to the Supreme Court to ultimately decide on its constitutionality.
"Ipaubaya natin sa Korte Suprema. Yan ang sistema namin. Hindi naman namin sinasabai na lagi kaming tama," he said. "Kung nagkamali kami… andiyan ang Korte Suprema."
(Let's leave it to the Supreme Court. That's our system. We're not saying we're always right. If we're wrong… the Supreme Court is there).
Since the law was passed in September, more than 10 petitions have been submitted to the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Law. Several senators have also filed bills to amend the law.
A constitutional law expert, Santiago has since said the Cybercrime Law is unconstitutional.
In a speech delivered at Adamson University on October 6, Santiago said the Constitution promotes free speech, as in the provision: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech.”
Defending the law
Enrile said he doesn't know much about the Internet, but said the newly passed cybercrime law is necessary to maintain order. He fired back at critics of the bill who say it threatens their freedom of speech.
"Gusto nila, yung iba, absolute right, absolute freedom. There's no such thing as absolute freedom. You must orient your right to the rights of other people," he said. "Otherwise we will go back to the jungle."
Enrile also voiced his support for the controversial provision that criminalizes online libel, citing the scope of the Internet in defending the harshness of the punishment. He said compared to books or newspapers that have a contained reach because of its distribution, the Internet's scope is much greater.
"Sa Internet, worldwide yan. Imagine the destruction you can create," he said.
"Malawak yan eh. Hindi mo na matatanggal yun (It's wide-reaching. You won't be able to just delete what you post)."
The 88-year-old lawmaker cited calls online not to vote for senatoriables who passed the law as an example of why the online libel provision is needed.
"Imagine using that kind of instrument to malign their defenseless targets," he said.
He added that the hackers who have broken into government websites also highlight the necessity of the law. Since the law was passed, a group of hackers who call themselves Anonymous Philippines have repeatedly attacked several government websites, to protest the act.
"Pababayaan nalang ba natin? Ganyan ba ang gusto natin sa ating lipunan? My god, every society should have a certain degree of order," he said.
(Will we just let them be? Is this what we want for our nation, our society?) - Rappler.com