Escudero files bill decriminalizing online libelBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines —Senator Francis “Chiz”Escudero has filed a bill repealing the libel provision in Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Libel is among the punishable offenses under Section 4 of the newly law.
In seeking a repeal of the said provision, Escudero acknowledged the basis on the “unequivocal provision on freedom of speech.”
“It is submitted that any form of libel is a form of abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of press,” he said.
Escudero also filed a similar bill in July 2010, decriminalizing libel under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.
“With today’s modern technology, the crime of libel does not only prove antiquated but to the contrary even overarching as a state tool to restrain freedom of speech,” he said.
“This is quite evident with the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, which broadens the coverage of the crime of libel to include even those with the use of computer system or other similar means that may be devised in the future.”
“This must never be countenanced if only to remain consistent to the constitutionally prescribed freedom of the press,” the senator added.
Escudero admitted an oversight last week when he voted to approve the anti-cybercrime law without noticing the libel provision. This was the reason why he sought a repeal of the said provision.
After all, the senator pointed that those who would violate the law would still be slapped with civil case.
“This bill does not negate civil liability in case the elements of libel subsist, which is but in consonance with the provisions of the Civil Code on Human Relations, specifically Articles 19 to 21 thereof,” he pointed out.
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