The House of Representatives is unlikely to move for the amendment of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, which provides six to 12 years’ jail time for online libel, a House leader said Wednesday.
House deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela province made the pronouncement a day after the Supreme Court dismissed all the petitions against the Anti-Cybercrime law which mainly seeks to remove its online libel provision.
The Anti-Cybercrime law provides that a criticism posted on social networking sites can be deemed libelous and send someone to jail for six to 12 years—a penalty one level higher than what is provided for libel under the Revised Penal Code which only metes a maximum four year-long jail sentence.
“I don’t think that Congress will move to repeal it [the online libel provision]. Congress passed the bill because it wanted the law which contained the disputed online libel,” Aggabao, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition allied with the Majority coalition in the House of Representatives, said in a text message.
There are at least two pending measures in the House which seeks to repeal online libel: the House Bill 466 of Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list and House Bill 3589 by Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan party-list.
But for neophyte Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list, the fight is just getting started.
Similarly, members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned in the strongest terms the Supreme Court’s junking of all four motions for reconsideration on the Cybercrime Prevention Law (Republic Act 101075).
“We are appalled at the High Tribunal’s decision as it now appears that this administration cannot digest legitimate dissent,” the NUJP said.
“We choose to remain steadfast in asserting our right to free press, speech, and expression,” it said.
The group called on the public to continue asserting constitutionally guaranteed rights and to fight against what they felt was a railroaded anti-people and undemocratic law.