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Belmonte against amending cybercrime law for now

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is not keen on amending the Cybercrime Prevention Act despite snowballing protests even from senators who hitherto backed the measure despite the insertion of controversial provisions.

Belmonte, who is seeking re-election as a Quezon City representative, said he was not surprised that many of his colleagues in the Senate were now against the new law and demanding that it be amended soon.

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“Eh tumatakbo yang lahat na yan eh,” he told reporters over dinner Thursday. “Tumatakbo yang mga yan. Iba ang pananaw nyan pagka-binabatikos sila sa media.”

Belmonte added, “They should have been awake when the bill was being discussed so they would have known [the implications] and they should have foreseen [them].”

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Belmonte saw no urgency to amend RA 10175 even if at least two House members have filed a bill seeking to take out, for instance, the libel provision inserted during the period of amendments at the Senate last January.

Critics of the new law are also questioning the “take down” provision, which empowers the Department of Justice to block access to computer data deemed offensive.

“We are 284 people (in the House) and we can consider their votes.… Let’s see first if we need the amendments,” Belmonte said, noting that the new law took effect only earlier this week. “Let’s give it a chance. It’s really easy to change it if there is a real necessity to do so.”

Belmonte called attention to the other facets of RA 10175, such as the provisions penalizing child pornography online.

“This is a terrific law, the first law that governs this thing that has become part of our lives and so forth and I think it’s good that we give it a chance to work,” he said.

“I think all of us agree that there must be some kind of a regulation there, and we are not basing it on our own experience but the experience of all other countries where all sorts of things happen on the Internet without regulation.”

Belmonte downplayed the inclusion of a libel provision in the new law, pointing out that the existing coverage of libel law “hardly ever results in a conviction.”

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“How many (people) have been convicted of libel here in the Philippines?” he asked.

He said critics should wait for the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10175 and see if it would address their concerns.

“If there is really a danger of stifling free speech and so forth, then let’s look at it and put the appropriate safeguards,” he said.

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TOPICS: Cybercrime, Internet, legislation, Libel, News, politics, R.A. 10175
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