Tuesday, January 22, 2013

‘Poisonous provisions’ of Anti-Cybercrime Law hit

MALOLOS CITY—Malacanang ally and former Akbayan partylist Rep. Risa Hontiveros has called for a “strike down of three poisonous provisions” of the controversial Anti-Cybercrime Law.

The three provisions that must be removed, Hontiveros said, are the cyber libel clause, real time data monitoring, and the take down clause.

Speaking to journalists during the launch of the Risa Hontiveros for Senator Movement here on Monday afternoon, the former militant partylist representative described the three provisions as “unconstitutional.”

She explained that even the President is willing to decriminalize libel law as stated in Article 353 of the over-80-year-old Revised Penal Code, and yet, penalties for internet libel are increased in the Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

Hontiveros said that real time monitoring and take down clauses of RA10175 are unconstitutional because they require no court order for implementation.

“It runs counter to thet freedom of expression and of the press as guaranteed in the 1987 Constitution,” she said in the vernacular.

As a former legislator, Hontiveros said that before RA 10175 was passed into law, the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill should have been passed first.

She said that the FOI could have served as a magna carta or mother framework for all other laws with regards to the media.

“They should have passed the FOI Bill first and it could have repealed the antiquated libel laws,” she said.

Hontiveros also expressed optimism on the possibilities that the FOI Bill will still be passed before the end of the 15th Congress.

“It can still be passed, otherwise, it will be refiled in the 16th Congress,” she said.

Earlier, the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), the national association of newspapers in the country issued a pooled editorial demanding the passage of the long delayed FOI Bill.

“Quick and correct action. This is the best and justly deserved path for the House of Representatives to take on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill,” the PPI said in the pooled editorial issued on Monday.

They added that that “Slow and wrong. This is the worst and justly reasonable judgment that Filipino voters would have of the House members, most especially of those seeking re-election in May 2013, should the FOI fail to pass.”

The pooled editorial further said, “time, the dribble drivel in the House, and an Executive seemingly less than lame in his support for the bill – the odds seem stacked against the passage of the FOI bill in the 15th Congress. This is even as the Senate had passed its version of the bill on third and final reading before Christmas last.”

As the 15th Congress draws to a close, the PPI said, “Only nine session days remain from January 21, when lawmakers return to work after a month-long holiday break, to Feb. 6, 2013, after which lawmakers will have another extended break and plunge into election campaign mode.

They will have just three more session days in June intended mainly for closing ceremonies, before adjourning sine die to give way to the incoming 16th Congress on June 30, 2013.”

They warned that that failure by the incumbent House to pass the FOI up to third reading is certain death for the bill in the 15th Congress.

This means that legislative work on the bill will revert to step one yet again in the 16th Congress. (Dino Balabo)