Congress urged to act on proposals to amend cyber law
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers on Thursday urged Congress to study amendments being proposed for the Cybercrime Prevention Act as it gears up to resume work next week.
Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino said that legislators should start looking into the contentious provisions once they go back to work next Monday. Among those he urged to back changes being proposed on Republic Act No. 10175 were President Benigno Aquino III, Senators Edgardo Angara and Vicente Sotto III, and the members of the bicameral conference committee.
Casino and Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino filed House Bill 6613 which seeks to repeal controversial portions of the new law.
Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption Partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna cautioned that before going into issues to decriminalize libel altogether, lawmakers should first amend RA 10175.
“Let us amend the Cybercrime law first and remove the unconstitutional provisions. After that, we can look at the libel law in the Revised Penal Code and decriminalize it by making its violators heavily civilly liable,” he said.
Senator Vicente Sotto III recently challenged to scrap the libel law and pave the way for an all-out mudslinging with his critics.
Tugna said legislators “should not act with knee-jerk reactions by scrapping the libel law in its entirety”, adding that a good name coupled with a clean reputation were important.
But Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares believes that a bill they filed at the House to decriminalize libel should be approved. He defended that there were other remedies for victims of defamatory statements within The Civil Code.
“No one should go to prison for exercise of constitutional right to free press and expression,” he said.
But Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo feels that the debate on decriminalizing libel was “a separate issue from the infirmities of the new cybercrime law.”
“The debate on libel, in my mind while timely, will take a longer time to resolve considering how substantive that charge is,” said the lawmaker. He echoed other statements to study first the amendments being proposed to RA 10175.
But Quimbo said that minor amendments were more feasible with the “few session days left before campaign season.”
House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II earlier said that if amendments were sought for the new law, it should be filed and studied right away due to the 15th Congress’ limited time.
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