Press Release
October 4, 2012


On the Cybercrime Law

Hindi naman ako ang single author ng Cyber Crime. Cyber Crime is one of the few measures filed in the Senate with several original authors. Baka naman sabihin nila ako lamang. Just to show you how much interest this particular subject has attracted among the Senators. Among the authors are Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy; si Senator Legarda; si Senator Trillanes; si Senator Santiago; mga Constitutionalist. Ang ibig ko sabihin this is one particular area of our economic and social life that has acquired a huge space in society: information and communication. In fact, the Constitution itself recognizes in the declaration of principles, na kailangan protektahan natin ang development and promote the development of information flaws, of communication technologies sapagkat this will ensure the promotion of our democracy and spread our liberties. Ang sabi nga lang doon, ay huwag naman natin i-infringe ang freedom of speech and press. You see, this is the classic call of the Constitution to promote the development for the common good but at the same time balance it against the abuse of human rights. Ngayon, what are we hearing now? Yung outcry over some provisions. I want to emphasize that hindi naman lahat ng provision dito kino-complain. If I will categorize them, only three areas. The rest are unquestioned. The public and even our friends in media have accepted it. Who will disagree that we need to protect the confidentiality of information, whether public or private? Who will agree that no one should destroy our computer system? No one should hack the records of our BSP or the record of Congress. Na-hack ang websites ng House and Senate. Who will disagree that we need to protect the integrity of our computer networks? This is the nervous system of a human body. So, ano ang gagawin natin? Ano ba talaga ang kino-complain ng ating mga kasamahan? Unang-una, 'yung sa libel daw. The libel proposal came on the floor. As Tito Sotto himself admitted, he was the one who proposed this on the floor. It was not in any of the original proposals among the several authors. As a sponsor, I accepted it because of this principle: libel is already punishable under the Penal Code pag sinabi mo in print. Pag sinabi mo na si Dela Cruz, magnanakaw 'yan, kung hindi totoo 'yan, you should be responsible for that malicious accusation. Sa broadcast, halimbawa si Milky or sa DZRH, sinabi niya na magnanakaw si Dela Cruz, tapos hindi totoo, he should be responsible, hindi ba? One must be accountable for one's conduct. That is the compact among us in society, na I can exercise my right, but I should also protect the rights of others. That means my right to extend my arm should not end in Cely's notes. Ganun 'yun. Sa libel, why is it objectionable that you make libel a crime if it is done online? When it is not objectionable when it is in print or broadcast? Ngayon, ang sabi, bakit ninyo tinaas ang penalty? The only rationale I can think of is that because of the novelty and the swiftness, and the spread and reach of ICT, parang 'yun ay aggravating circumstance. You can call Juan Dela Cruz magnanakaw in writing or in print. Maaaring limited ang nakabasa noon o nakaka-dinig, pero dito sa internet, isang click, global. That is a plausible rationale. At saka ang libel, lahat ng estudyante ng human rights, alam nila ito. 'Yung freedom of speech and press does not protect libelous or malicious statements. That is always outside the scope of free speech. There is absolutely no issue I think violation of freedom of speech or press in this regard. Secondly, ano ang nirereklamo pa? Yung karapatan na the authority we gave to the Secretary of Justice to stop a website. The third issue ay bakit daw ginawang 'yung mga krimen dito, prinosecute ka na, and this is without prejudice to prosecution under the Revised Penal Code, this will be double jeopardy, sabi. But that is the trend, you can claim that immediately. Pag nag file na ng kaso under the cyber crime at mayroon pa nag file ng kaso under the Revised Penal Code, you can immediately say "no, you cannot do that, that is against the rule of double jeopardy." But that is no ground for saying that this law is unconstitutional. Overall, bakit importante itong batas na ito? Sapaka't we are protecting a very vital sector of our economy and of our society -- which is the cyber space or the online communication.

'Yung crime lang nagcommit, 'iyong I Love You virus? It caused $9 billion damage. May na prosecute ba doon? Hindi ba Pinoy gunawa dun? Wala na prosecute doon kasi wala tayong batas noon. Pero kung ngayon nangyari 'yong, maari siya maprosecute under the cybercrime law. Itong damage ngayon na hack lahat ng ahensya ng pamahalaan, we don't know yet how much damage has been done but I suspect a tremendous amount of damage. Oh, ano ba, helpless tayo? We are helpless right now because this law is not yet enforced and in effect.

What I am saying is that this law is to advance republic policy, that is even declared to be paramount policy under the Constitution, that we must protect, that we must advance the development of communication and information technology in our country and this sector is the one creating almost 600,000 jobs right now and earning our country almost nine billion dollars and in three years time it will create 1.3 million jobs--that's the sector we are talking about. But apart from that, the government is good for us, the learning is good for us, e-commerce is good for us and unless we protect online communication, those areas will never advance because people will be afraid to use the internet because there is no protection. But with cyber crime law, there is protection for the integrity and confidentiality of information. In effect, we expand the rights of internet users.

On actions to be taken

In the mean time, I think the first call is for media, a very powerful conveyor of information, to come down and say, "there is no threat to anyone's freedom right now." What we are just saying that we are apprehensive, that we are anxious that it will violate our rights, pero wala pa na naman nagviolate. In the first place, the law is not even enforced yet. Ginagawa palang 'yung implementing rules and regulations. So, wala pa actual injury to anyone and therefore, I would appeal very strongly and passionately...sabihin n'yo sa mga kababayan..."Huwag kayong matatakot, wala pa naman violation. Huwag kayong ma-panic." We've have to calm down the atmosphere.

More concretely, we must take steps to correct the situation. And what I do is that I will file a measure to amend that provision to include the requirement of a Court Order before the secretary clamps down on any website unless there is clear and present danger na talagang you cannot wait a minute longer because the danger is so imminent.

On whether cyber crime law will affect private conversations

Hindi affected 'yung social network. Halimbawa nag kukwentuhan kayo? Bakit ma-affect? Hindi affected 'yun. Ang affected lang ay kung inilibel mo or na slander mo. Angara: Ang affected lang ay if i-slander mo yung isang known person. Pero yung mga blog na nagkokomentaryo, wala effect yun. Katulad din ng kolmunista. The idea is that freedom of speech does not affect libelous or slanderous statements or remark. That has never been the intent either in America or in France where it was born neither in the Philippines. Just to sound legalistic, one can review the whole history of freedom of speech and press. Libel is not protected by the freedom of speech. Bakit hindi kasama sa revised penal code yung internet? Kasi wala pang online nun. Yung revised penal code was circa 1934 or 1935. It's not a question of leveling the playing field. Its recognizing the fact that libel is not protected by freedom of speech or press.

On decriminalizing libel

Angara: I agree. Ang solusyon diyan ay hindi sa cybercrime. Ang solusyon dyan ay i-amend ang revised penal code at idecriminalize natin. Ngayon, ano ang ibig sabihin natin ng decriminalizing the libel? Hindi ibig sabihin nun na wala nang responsibilidad ang journalist na tawaging magnanakaw na hindi totoo. Liable pa rin sila but not in the form of jail. Ang liability nila is damages which probably more hurting than being sent to jail. Jail may heroic proportion pa yun pero pinagbayad ka ng damages, mauubos ang personal fortune mo pati ng pamilya. The substitution of civil damages is heavier than jail. What I'm saying is that there is no solution to decriminalize libel in the cyber law when the bill says it's a crime. Ang solusyon dun i-amend muna yung penal code and then kahit hindi na natin iamend yung cybercrime, dead law na ito. Hindi na ito enforceable.

Q: With all these controversies, Senator Sotto said he will file a proposed bill that will not only decriminalize but will repeal the libel law.

Angara: Let's not go naman to the other extreme. Let's have a balanced view of things. We are called a civil society because we are called to others their rights as well. I'm just saying to those who want to repeal libel provisions in the Cybercrime, that is still ineffective because libel would still be a crime because it is under the basic criminal code natin. The solution is repeal the basic law of libel in the revised penal code then the cybercrime libel is academic na.

Q: Sa revised penal code, meron pong mala prohibita saka mala in se, applicable po bay un sa cybercrime?

Angara: Ang cybercrime is mala prohibitum that means hindi mo tinitignan ang intent. Katulad ng sinabi ko kahapon, kayong mga peryodista, wala kayong dapat ikatakot sa Pilipinas on the law of Libel. I have handled for almost one decade as a young lawyer defending journalists of Manila Times, Daily Mirror and Philippine Herald from libel. No one has ever been convicted of libel. For libel to be successful, you have got to prove 2 elements. Yung una is absolute falsehood. Second is actual malice. Talagang you are harboring ill-will towards that person. Kung di mo naman kilala, pano mo naman sasabihin na actual malice yun, di mo naman kilala yung tao. That alone kahit hindi naman totoo yung sinabi mo kahit wala naman malice, libre ka sa libel. This apprehension about libel and everyone now is slandering somebody through the internet is afraid that he will be convicted is exaggerated.

Q: Is it true na yung paglike sa isang malicious na ipinost, you can be charged?

Angara: Hindi naman. Kaya nga ang apprehension over this is exaggerated naman masyado. No one has ever been charged for expressing his opinion. That is not covered at all.

Q: Kasi 'yung sinasabi ng mga nagpro-protest...

Angara: Kaya nga, that's what I'm saying misapprehended itong provision na ito.

Q: Paano sir kung sabihin na si senator ganon nandaraya or nangongopya, libelous ba 'yun kung sa Facebook?

Angara: Kung hindi totoo 'yun at malicious, libel.

Q: Kapag nag-post ka let's say sa 'yong Facebook page or Twitter account o nag-blog ka, pwede ka bang i-charge din?

Angara: Hindi nga. Kung opinion lang hindi. Kung malicious lang at falsehood, doon ka pwedeng ma-charge.

Q: Sir, 'yung cyber squatting? Pa-explain naman.

Angara: Kay Senator Sotto rin 'yan dahil somebody stole or squatted on his domain na nakuha na niya. So parang theft 'yon.

Q: Sir, ibig sabihin aside from mga amendatory clauses doon, hindi pwedeng tanggalin sa Cybercrime Law 'yung provision ng libel?

Angara: Hindi. Ang solusyon nga ay tanggalin na criminal ang libel sa Revised Penal Code.

Q: Hindi ba sir ang kinakatakot ay bakit nalagay doon?

Angara: 'Yun ngang sinasabi na you're barking at the wrong tree. Maling solusyon.

Q: Nalaman niyo na kung sino ang nag-insert non?

Angara: Apparently, sinuggest 'yon ng DOST, 'yung Commission on Communication and Information Technology (CICT) na naging ACTO when it was transferred to DOST. Ngayon, I think they're well-meaning kasi sabi nila halimbawa, 'yung website ng gobyerno o website mo, na-hack 'yan. Binago nila ang content, mga falsified information na, para hindi ma-damage 'yung entity na 'yon o 'yung person na 'yon, the DOJ on proof that it was altered or falsified 'yung website, pwede nilang i-block ang access to that website to stop the damage to that person or agency. Q: Pero sir, 'yon ang pinasu-suspend niyo muna kay Secretary De Lima?

Angara: Dahil nga walang parameter, walang safeguard, on the exercise of that authority because stopping an access to a website is immense power. It's alright if it's Secretary Laila De Lima who will do the exercising.

Q: So sir, did you talk to her na?

Angara: Hindi pa.

Q: Ibig sabihin, 'yung site na hinack, iblo-block na 'yung access doon?

Angara: Oo, hindi mo na ma-access.

Q: Sir, 'yung sa Section 19, considering your misgivings doon sa immense power given to the Secretary of Justice, would you say na there's an oversight...

Angara: I'm not questioning that kind of authority but I'm saying that we should have put safeguards in the exercise of that authority para hind imaging whimsical and capricious.

Q: Would you say that there has been an oversight in the part of the lawmakers?

Angara: Alam mo naman in the process of law-making, give and take 'yan. Sometimes on your feet sa debate nasasabi 'yan. You cannot avoid some oversights like that. That is not, I think, intentional. It's not deliberate na gusto ng Senado o ng Kongreso na talagang sirain ang karapatan ng kahit sino because this is precisely to protect and advance the freedom of the internet para magkaroon kayo ng kompiyansa ma tuwing you use the internet to e-mail, blog, Twitter or Facebook, ang sinasabi mo roon is secure.

Q: Sir, can we say na parang defective ng konti itong batas na ito?

Angara: Hindi. Hindi defective. Alam mo, dito sa batas mayroong separability clause 'yan. Kapag sinabi ng Husgado na itong section 21 masama ito, so null and void, it doesn't mean that the whole law is null and void dahil sinabi ko na nga at the beginning, out of 23 Articles, tatlo lang ang kinukwestiyon. The rest are acceptable presumably.

Q: Sir, halimbawa ni-like ko lang ang same accusation tapos hindi napatunayan later on...

Angara: Hindi kasi hindi ikaw naman ang author noon.

Q: Hindi ba aiding and abetting 'yon?

Angara: Hindi. Audience lang naman siya. You mean, nabasa ko sa Philippine Star 'yung ganoong sinabi mo na accusation, conspirator na ako? Hindi. Audience lang ako. You are non-party. Q: Sa internet may sharing...

Angara: Conspiracy na 'yon. Mas mahirap i-pruweba 'yon na may conspiracy. So, napakahirap ng hurdle kung may nagco-complain. Sinsabi ko sa inyo, mabalik ako sa punto ko, kayong mga journalists, huwag kayong masyadong matakot. You are the most protected specie on Earth lalo na sa Pilipinas because if you were in Singapore, hindi lang kayo mapre-preso, lahat na ng pag-aari niyo, nakumpiska na. Sa China, hindi lang kumpiska, baka firing squad pa. Sa Pilipinas nga, walang naco-convict sa inyo. Bihira. 'Yung blatant and brazen lang.

Q: Sir, going back to the libel provision, hindi ba masyadong vague ang provision na 'yon? Subject to various interpretation? Hindi ba isasama sa IRR to clarify?

Angara: Pwedeng i-clarify pero hindi mababago ng IRR ang provision ng law. Ang sinasabi ng batas...

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