October 2, 2012, the Philippine internet community had gone black in protest to the highly-abhorred Republic Act 10175 or what is commonly known as the Cybercrime Prevention Law. Most profile pictures and display pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites displayed a blank black image that symbolizes the oppression of the Philippine government to freedom of speech and expression. Comments like this (████████████████████████. [ᴄᴏᴍᴍᴇɴᴛ ʙʟᴏᴄᴋᴇᴅ.] (ʀᴀ ɴᴏ. 10175) ) became a normal sight that people who didn't know began to wonder if it was a mere glitch - only to find out that this is most likely what would happen should the law be implemented.
Indeed, the protest had gone viral. Yet the government didn't listen. The Supreme Court did not release a Temporary Restraining Order for the reason that five justices were absent today. Despite the rampant opposition of millions of Filipino netizens, this Anti-Cybercrime Law will take effect tomorrow, October 3, 2012.
Understanding RA 10175
First and foremost, I would like to say that I support some clauses of the Anti-Cybercrime Law. I support the fact that it would put a stop to child pornography and identity theft. But I think there are more to it that I stand against than back up.
For more details, read the provisions here.
I consider it unconstitutional as certain provisions directly violates Article III Section 4 that states "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances." Beginning tomorrow, we are no longer allowed to express our opinions towards things which we believe are not right. Beginning tomorrow, we are gagged and our freedom to speak our minds will be taken away from us. This is a clear violation of human rights. Even the United Nations believes so.
This Anti-Cybercrime Law is also impractical. As Paul Artadi had pointed out, how can the government assure internet security when they can't even secure their websites? It makes sense, right? Plus violation of law will land people in prison for 12 years or a fine of one million pesos. That is completely ridiculous as opposed to the 4 years of prison and lesser fines which are the maximum penalty for those who committed libel on print.
And as how EVERYBODY had been saying since day one, there are far more important issues to prioritize than internet regulations. We are in dire need of solutions to unemployment, poverty and hunger, and lack of education. We are still on fighting battles concerning Reproductive Health and are waiting for confirmation about the Freedom to Information, and such. But hey, look! The government had prioritized this. Why? Because they wanted to get away from the possible black propagandas and criticism that they could receive during the campaign period? Who knows.
I am yet to talk about the beneficiality or non-beneficiality of this law as this covers both sides. It is obviously beneficial to those government officials who hide behind their power to bring people to jail because they are coward enough to face the fact that they are public entities who are subjected to everyday criticism. But it is downright non-beneficial to people who believe that Freedom of Expression, of Speech, and of the Press are what basically constitutes a real democratic country.
One problem I see about this Anti-Cybercrime Law is that many are not informed. I personally felt like it was rushed. Ironically, I would compare it to the issue of 'midnight appointments' done by the past president which the present government vowed to defy. Many were taken by surprise when it was publicized, thus leaving most of the people lost in the dark, wondering how this atrocious implementation will change our lives as free Filipinos.
To further understand why YOU should stand against this Cyber MARTIAL LAW, read THIS.
Anti-Cybercrime Law and KPOP Fangirls
Honestly, I am not one to explain the details but one of my biggest concerns when I learned about this law was the Pinoy KPOP community where we all belong. I began to think that since most of our population are young people, most are not fully aware about this law's negative effects on us. And my thoughts were proven right when I saw a lot of fangirls on my Facebook timeline and T-List asking why everybody has gone black. I realized they deserve to know what awaits them, so I gave it a thought.
The issue of downloading is a given. We will be called cyber criminals if we download videos, MP3's and pictures. I personally think that that's justifiable since we are all aware that illegal downloading is bad. (Editing images would also be criminal.) However, my concern is this: this law is borderless and vague. It could eventually lead to the blocking of Youtube, Viiki, SpeedyJoe, Dailymotion, and other video-uploading sites which are our ultimate lifeblood. Imagine the horror?
Second thing, KPOP fans are no longer allowed to criticize other fans who do wrong things to others. (I believe this will be the reason if ever I'll be sent to jail.) If we see something wrong, we are no longer allowed to speak about it. Because if we do, we can be accused of cyber libel - no matter how right we may be with our opinions.
Now, if we support a cause against something wrong or even if we just 'LIKE' or 'RETWEET' a comment that one finds libelous, we will also be charged with libel. Thus, you just don't lose your freedom to speak and express your opinions. You will also be controlled and mandated as to what you should agree to. So if you agree that someone should be put to jail because she fooled you for saying that Super Junior will be having concerts here and you end up paying her for the non-existent tickets, you will be charged with libel too if that person would decide to sue you. How is that possible? Because as how I see it, cybercrime is now a bigger mistake than estafa in the Philippines.
You basically don't have to name the person. Even if you don't, as long as that person felt like it's directed to him/her, you can be sued for libel.
Here is the worst: if you own a fanblog and someone commented ill against another person (including government officials), you are also responsible should the criticized entity file a libel case. That's how atrocious this law is.
The trolling stops, too. Trolling is different from bullying, but not all people would know and understand that. Trolling is fun; but if one gets offended, it is no longer just a civil case. The offender will be subjected to cyber bullying and can therefore spend years on prison. Then what do we do to those who are unnecessarily sensitive? Do we let them just take us all down?
Benefit of the Doubt
Frankly speaking, I lost hope in my country because of this. I was born after EDSA Revolution, a revolution that was held to fight for freedom of expression; and never have I thought that after 26 years, it would be suppressed again. And the most ironic thing is that the people who had implemented this E-Martial Law are the bloods and fleshes of the people who have fought bravely for our freedom during the Martial Law era.
I hate to think that the Philippines is going down now because of some people who initially do not know what a blog is. I hate to think that the Philippines is being run by individuals who wouldn't care about the legacies of their forefathers just so they could protect their personal intentions. I hate to think that my country is now being subjected to ridicule because we are called the REPUBLIC of the Philippines, yet our democracy says goodbye starting tomorrow. I hate to think that unless this law is abolished, repealed or amended, there will be no more hope for this fateful land.
That is why I'm still trying to believe in miracles. To this point (less than two hours before the ill-fate befalls), I am still praying that Blessed Pedro Calungsod would show one last miracle for his country before he is canonized as saint. I am giving the benefit of the doubt for the president (and not for the senator). I know we all need that.
Because no matter how much I hate this country right now, it does not erase the fact that I am still a Filipino who needs to fight for the freedom which my father had fought for during EDSA 1 and what my mom and I had fought for during EDSA 2.
And as a fangirl, I refuse to be deprived of my rights to enjoy my interests, which I could only access through the power of the internet.
I vow to not be silenced. I will exercise my freedom of expression whenever I deem necessary. I will not be afraid. Because I am a Filipino and the Philippines is for the Filipino.
God bless the Philippines.
"We have emphasized that the Philippines is for the Philippines, and that each and every Filipino should be calm in the knowledge that the government is ready to defend them."
- President Benigno Aquino III Official Facebook Page