TWO major media organizations in the country have clashing position regarding the need to regulate the internet, through legislation, but both agreed that the existing Cybercrime prevention Act of 2012 should be amended.
During the joint hearing of the Senate committee hearing on the proposed amendments on the Cybrecrime law Monday, the National Press Club (NPC) said that while it is not in favor of some of the provisions in the law, it is not against the enactment of law that would regulate the internet.
NPC president Benny Antiporda, particularly cited the cyber libel provision in the law which was upheld by the Supreme Court on its recent decision, which the NPC considers a backward and anti-libertarian provision.
Antiporda was responding to the queries of Senator Francis Escudero if they agree with the idea of regulating the internet though legislation passed by congress.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on the other hand has a different take on internet regulation and maintained that cyberspace should not be regulated.
NUJP vice chair Joseph Alwin Alburo, during the senate committee proceeding said the organization rejects any legislation that aims to regulate the internet.
Aside from the NPC and NUJP, also present during the hearing are representatives various internet and blogger organizations like the Bloggers and Netizens for Democracy (BAND); Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA); National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP); Philippines Computer Emergency Response Team (PHCERT); Democracy.Net.PH and Digitalfilipino.com.
Most of them supports pending proposed measures that seek to amend Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime act particularly Sections 4(C) 4. 5, 6 and 7 and the establishment of the magna carta for Philippine internet freedom.
But Janette Toral of the Digitalfilipino, defended the cybercrime law and insisted that people should give the law a chance to probe its effectiveness first before changing it.
“We cannot just amend the law immediately. It has to pass the test of time, prove its intention. There should be jurisprudence to prove that it is not working,” she added.
Toral added that the implementation of the cybercrime act makes it possible for law enforcement agencies to go after cyber criminals and abusive internet users.
According to her no amount of money can compensate the integrity of a person and if a person destroys the integrity of another individual it is only fair to send that person in jail.
The NPC for its part said that Libel law is an antithesis of freedom of speech, of expression or of the press and it does not only diminish the essence of the said guaranteed freedom but totally destroys them.
Press freedom or freedom of speech, Antiporda said, cannot be considered as freedom if there are laws that restrict or inhibit its exercise.
“If the Senate or the House of Representative has the luxury of a privilege speech that need not to be afraid of being sued for libel. Then the National Press Club also believes that a simple Juan dela Cruz should also be given the right of free speech in the cyber space that need not to be afraid of libel charges,” he added. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA