Quezon: Debates on Cybercrime Law ‘important’

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon says netizens can lobby for amendments to the Cybercrime Law

MANILA, Philippines – “The debate is the first step.”

Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon on Saturday, September 22, acknowledged that netizens can lobby for amendments to the Cybercrime Protection Act of 2012, which has received criticism for a provision against online libel.

“It is important that a discussion is taking place. A consensus is emerging. It is not written in stone, and the more that you are able to get others to join your point of view, and find a sponsor who will amend that,” Quezon said at the Social Good Summit Manila 2012, which was organized by Rappler and Tweetup Manila.

“And this is where your vote becomes important in 2013,” he added. “If you settle on a candidate or, better yet, candidates who make it part of your platform, you will get something done.”

Quezon also said nothing prevents citizens from going to the Senate or the House of Representatives to check their journals on the Cybercrime Law. “You could, if you want to, sit down, review precisely how the law was made, which member of Congress made a specific amendment and when, and who voted for it,” he said.

Asked if the law is constitutional or unconstitutional, Quezon did not give a direct response.

Quezon, however, said there are various schools of thought on the issue. These include the following: 

  • the insertion of the provision on online libel “is unnecessary because the law has always applied”

  • the law is necessary because there is a “loophole that has to be closed off by making things explicit”

  • the penalty for online is harsher

  • the matter should only require compensation as punishment, not criminal penalties

The Cybercrime Law’s critics have threatened to bring President Benigno Aquino III to court over this. “There can be nothing sadder than suing the son of icons of democracy for infringement of a cherished right,” said lawyer Harry Roque in a Thought Leaders piece for Rappler.

Meanwhile, the Social Good Summit is ongoing as of posting time. Earlier during the event, panelists discussed the power of social media in shaping the country’s politics. “The tweet is mightier than the sword,” said a panelist, Blogwatch contributor and citizen advocate Jane Uymatiao, in her speech. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com