Critics slam Palace defense of anti-cybercrime law

THE fisherfolk alliance assailed Malacanang for defending the anti-cybercrime law despite heavy protest lodged by various groups.

Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda assured the public that the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will guarantee civil liberties and will not be affected by Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, currently questioned before the Supreme Court.

But the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) vice chairperson Salvador France assailed the statementt issued by Malacanang assuring the Filipino public that the law will not be used and abused to violate basic freedom as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

“The anti-cybercrime law is an across-the-country political project that seeks to curtail basic freedom like free speech. Whether Malacanang and its puppets in the Senate and the House of Representatives deny it or not, the real score is revealed by its ulterior motive and that is to silence freedom of speech and expression in grandslam and wholesale manner,” added France.

The leader appealed to netizens, facebookers and freedom loving Filipinos to bring the fight against the anti-cybercrime law in the cyberspace, in the Supreme Court, in the parliament of the streets and in the court of public opinion.

“Let us deluge the streets with warm protesting bodies. Let us saturate the Supreme Court with more petitions against the anti-cybercrime law. Let us all condemn President Aquino and his cohorts in both Houses of Congress for killing our basic freedoms for the sake of its national security doctrine and national security agenda,” said France.

In a Palace statement issued by Lacierda, Malacanang said questions have been raised about the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Act. We recognize and respect efforts not only to raise these issues in court, but to propose amendments to the law in accordance with constitutional processes.

“In the meantime we believe there is an opportunity for reasonable discourse between concerned stakeholders and the Department of Justice. This dialogue can address stakeholder concerns as the Implementing Rules and Regulations are drafted. We urge the fullest and widest participation of stakeholders in this process,” said Malacanang.

The Palace statement also said: “Let us bear in mind the law that binds us all: the Constitution. Our Constitution is clear and uncompromising in the civil liberties it guarantees all our people. As the basic law, its guarantees cannot, and will not, be diminished or reduced by any law passed by Congress. The administration is equally adamant in upholding these liberties, which were regained at such high cost by our people. As the President said on September 27, the vigorous exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a vibrant democracy, requires those who disagree not to oppress others.”

Malacanang assured the public that no government entity has moved to deprive anyone of access to the Internet or to suppress civil liberties as exercised online. In fact what has taken place is that hackers who claim to be aligned with critics of the Cybercrime Act are the ones who have engaged in online vandalism, depriving the broader public of access to much needed government information and services online.

However, Pamalakaya said it was puzzled with the “deafening silence” displayed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte on the current public outrage against the anti-cybercrime law.

“There are already 8 petitions filed before the Supreme Court against the anti-cybercrime law and still counting. But the Senate President and the Speaker of the House remains silent over this shotgun piece of legislation. It is time for these congress leaders to open their big mouths and say “ ok, we will have this law repealed before it creates havoc on people’s civil liberties and basic human rights,” the group said.

Asserting that the two top leaders of Philippine Congress are duty bound to correct the grave legislative mistake, Pamalakaya reiterated their demand for the two top leaders of Congress to lead lawmakers in challenging the constitutionality of the anti-cybercrime law.

“The Senate President and the Speaker of the House must do their duty, and that is to lead their colleagues in both chambers of Congress to challenge the legality, moral and political correctness of the cybercrime prevention before the Supreme Court and in the court of public opionion,” said Pamalakaya.

Petitioners against the anti-cybercrime law maintained that the Cybercrime Prevention Act negates freedom of expression by enabling authorities to block access to any material on the Internet. They said RA 10175 opposes Constitutional provisions on the “freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, privacy of communications, double jeopardy, and right against unreasonable searches and seizure.”

The group also lamented the silence of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Section 19 of the Act which authorizes the Justice Secretary to block any content that is found to be in violation of the law merely at “face value”.

“Secretary de Lima should also speak in behalf of the DoJ and question Section 19 and other draconian provisions of the anti-cybercrime law. But she is not doing her job at present, unless, she likes the idea of violating the fundamental rights of the people as legalized by RA 10175,” the group lamented.

The group said the anti-cybercrime act of 2012 promoted state terrorism under Section 12 of the law which allows the operatives of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to collect traffic data real time with due cause even without a court order.

“This is witch hunting courtesy of the anti-cybercrime law. Everybody is included in the gameplan of the totatalirarian state,” the group said.

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