Amend Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act

Three Cebuano congressmen who voted for the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act are now supporting calls to amend the law.

Rep.Pablo Garcia (Cebu,2nd district) said the cybercrime bill was not thoroughly discussed in the House before it was approved in plenary and forwarded to the bicameral committee.

”I am in favor of amending it, to harmonize it with the Revised Penal Code and the pending bill to decriminalize libel,” Garcia said.

Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu, 4th district) said he will support amendments to exclude mainstream media organizations from being covered by the law.

”Let’s listen to the mainstream media and evaluate their concerns,” he said.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act was signed by President Benigno Aquino III on Sept. 12 and targets online pornography, hacking, spamming, and identity theft.

The law seeks to apply to country’s libel law on Internet users, including social media users, but with tougher penalties as compared to traditional media.

It also give power to the Department of Justice to take down any website without a court order.

Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing(Cebu, 6th district) said he is in favor of reducing the penalties on libelous online statements.”No bill should infringe on the freedom of speech,” said Quisumbing.

He said he voted for the passage of the cybercrime bill, believing it will make Internet users become more responsible.

He said the law’s implementing rules should be able to “strike a balance” between protecting the freedom of speech and the rights of cybercrime victims.

Internet users, human rights groups and Sen. Teofisto Guingona III filed petitions against the law before the Supreme Court, saying the law violates the freedom of expression and is unconstitutional.

Salimbangon said he favored the passage of the cybercrime bill because he wanted those who malign people over the Internet to be made liable for their actions.

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