By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com/23-September-2012) – Media practitioners worldwide have expressed alarm over the newly-enacted Philippine cybercrime law has exceeded the tolerable threshold of internationally recognized practices on state censorship, and has moved toward broader stifling of press freedom and curtailing freedom of expression, BicolToday.com learned Friday, September 21.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday joins its affiliate, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in expressing serious concern that the newly enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act 2012 poses a significant threat to press freedom and limits freedom of expression in the Philippines.
The new law provisions enacted under the Act, which was passed last week, have been criticized by the NUJP and international media groups for including libel among the crimes that may be committed online.
NUJP believes the Act is a threat not only to media, but to any member of the public with access to the Internet, as it broadens the scope of the libel law to include online expression.
“The IFJ is greatly concerned that the inclusion of online content in the Act could be used to curtail freedom of expression online,” said the IFJ Asia Pacific. “We are further concerned that the government of the Philippines continues to delay the passing of the Freedom Of Information (FOI) bill, which clearly stands against their stated commitment to press freedom.”
IFJ cites the United Nations Human Rights Council has already declared in October 2011 that the Philippines’ existing libel law to be excessive and incompatible with international human rights law.
NUJP said the enactment of the new law “was, to say the least, sneaky and betrays this [the Aquino] administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression” and that it clearly shows the world that the Aquino Government is “no friend of press freedom.”
The government enacted the Cybercrime Prevention Act while ratification of the FOI law continues to be delayed more than 20 years after an FOI bill was first filed. [BicolToday.com]