Protect Online Freedom of Speech in the Philippines

Target: Filipino President Benigno Aquino III

Goal: Repeal new Filipino “cybercrime” law that inhibits freedom of speech online

A new law meant to combat “cybercrime” has recently been instituted in the Philippines. Unfortunately, by substantially increasing both the punishments for criminal libel and the power granted to authorities in shutting down and monitoring online content, the new law in reality threatens Filipinos’ freedom of speech and expression in the online community.

An end result such as this—regardless of the law’s intention—is not compatible with a free and open democratic society. It falls to Filipino President Benigno Aquino III and his administration to rectify this problem and ensure that these threated rights are restored and protected.

Numerous cases have already appeared before the Filipino Supreme Court, some calling for the law to be declared unconstitutional due to its clear violation of free expression—a right guaranteed in both the Philippines’ constitution and several human rights treaties that have been ratified by Filipino leaders. This new law, expanding on previous Filipino legislation penalizing libel, has expanded the minimum punishment for computer-related libel from six months to six years, with the possibility of a maximum of twelve years.

Furthermore, the Department of Justice has the ability to, of its own accord and without a warrant, shutdown any website it deems inconsistent with the law. Despite these obvious transgressions of international law, the Aquino administration has shown little interest in repealing or replacing the law.

It’s not hard to imagine the impact these laws will have on Filipinos’ willingness to speak their mind concerning government and civil society. Threatened with such lengthy prison terms, the Filipino population has to mind its every step online, even when faced with corrupt officials or fraudulent business dealings. A libel charge can be leveraged at any time and by any number of people, making speaking one’s mind a dangerous business.

Clearly, a society bereft of freedom of speech can hardly be called a truly democratic society. If he values an open and free Filipino society, President Aquino must repeal this new “cybercrime” law. Sign this petition and demand that the law be struck down.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Aquino,

The recently enacted “cybercrime” law, due to its overt attacks on Filipino freedom of speech, must be repealed. Increased punishment for criminal libel and a super empowered online police force makes free speech and expression impossible in the Philippines. Such an end result is a clear infringement of international law.

If you value a democratic society, I ask that you repeal this law and protect the rights guaranteed to the Filipino people by your own constitution. Refusing to listen to the voices of the people is refusing to allow the country to prosper and grow as a whole.

I appreciate your consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ssoosay via Flickr

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Signatures

  • pmcvbqxJH
  • Stefano Serpico
  • Justin G. Tsai
  • Shane Cummings
  • Ruth Bescript
  • James Anthony S. Aure
  • Maria dels Àngels Beltran
  • Pepe Pops
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