Well, the whole country’s abuzz with this whole Cybercrime Law going into effect today. Vehement protests on Twitter have caused this local issue to be known internationally. While I myself am against it, I am also aware that we need it.
However, the whole issue stems from the libel clause in the said law (RA 10175). People are afraid that saying something negative or critical about a person, or, say, the government might land them in jail. They are saying that it infringes on the people’s freedom of speech, their right to express their opinions freely. The law, as it is, does not clarify what constitutes something as libelous or not, hence the people’s fear-driven violent reactions. I understand how they feel. I’m a pretty vocal person when I get riled up, and I’d like to retain the right to rant in my own way and where I choose to, but then I–and all of us, actually–have to be responsible enough to recognize when what we say PUBLICLY is detrimental already to the development of the society.
Are rants detrimental? Name-calling? Expletives? Should one be penalized for these? One person might say yes; another might say no. In my opinion–and as stated succinctly by a former student–, maybe we should all just learn manners. We should know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. On top of this, we as a people are too sensitive and easily offended and therefore would strike back as soon as anything offensive is hurled our way (Remember Claire Danes?). We don’t like it when anything offensive is said to or about us, but we don’t restrain ourselves from doing the same thing! If you rant to your friends at a dinner table or over coffee, then that is your prerogative, but make public such hate then you breed hate as well because a lot of people now have access to your thoughts, so don’t be surprised if someone takes action against you.
That’s precisely what seems to have been done here. The libel clause was put in after the nation attacked a politician for his denial of having committed plagiarism. The sad thing is that instead of that politician taking the high ground and serving as an example for the rest of the country on how to handle such situations, he retaliated at the people he was supposed to love, serve, and protect.
I tried reading the bill. I haven’t finished it honestly because the legal jargon is too much for me to handle all at once, but from what I’ve read, the bill is actually very sound and reasonable. Given the original purpose of this bill, then all original parts included in it deserve to be passed. However, with the inclusion of the libel clause, things got problematic, and people got scared. And you know what Yoda said about fear. It leads to nothing but trouble.
I’m all for the revision of this law. I don’t accept it as it is now because there are a lot of things that need to be clarified with the people. Also, the speed with which this was passed is very alarming. This was first proposed in July, if I understand things correctly, but now it’s been signed by the President and enacted today. The RH Bill, on the other hand, has been on the floor for as long as I’ve been alive in this world. Well, you know what I mean. But this just betrays the priorities and biases of our elected officials, and now everybody is left asking: Who else can we trust to be our leaders? Who else is worthy of our votes?
I don’t know about you, but I, too, am scared for the future.