Gov’t respects free speech, but not through hacking

Mara Cepeda
Gov’t respects free speech, but not through hacking
Malacañang says there are legal feedback mechanisms that citizens can use to channel their concerns to the government

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Saturday, June 13, that while it respects the freedom of speech, it cannot condone such expressions done through illegal means, as in the case of hackers who defaced a government website to send a message to President Benigno Aquino III.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte made the statement in an interview on state-run Radyo ng Bayan, when asked about the recent defacement of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ (NHCP) official site, timed with Philippine Independence Day on June 12.

“Whatever the message is, we cannot condone the hacking of any website,” Valte said.

She said that while the Palace respects the freedom of speech and right to redress grievances, there are proper and legal feedback mechanisms.

Kung sila lang po ang gusto talagang magtanong ay madali naman po kaming makausap at mahanap, considering marami po sa amin [ang] nasa social media na rin,” Valte said, noting that they are always ready to answer such queries.

(If they really want to ask questions, we are very easy to find and to talk to, considering that many of us are already on social media.)

She added, “‘Yung karapatan ng isang mamamayan na itanong sa kanyang pamahalaan kung ano na ba ang nagagawa sa isang bagay ay kailangang na-e-express within the limits provided by the Constitution and within the law (The right of a citizen to ask the government for updates on cerrtain matters  should be expressed within the limits provided by the Constitution and within the law).”

On June 12, the “Global Security Hackers” group broke into the NHCP website and left a message for Aquino – an accounting of what he has done as President in the last 5 years.

Hacking is considered an illegal form of public expression by Philippine law. (READ: Hackers deface Philippine police website)

It is a crime punishable under Republic Act No 8792, also known as the E-Commerce Act of 2000, by a fine of at least P 100,000, and imprisonment of  6 months to 3 years. – 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.