For Immediate Release
October 8, 2012
Contact: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, firstname.lastname@example.org
CYBERCRIME PREVENTION ACT ATTACKS FREEDOM OF SPEECH
GABRIELA-USA JOINS INTERNATIONAL CALL TO REPEAL!
The passage of the “Cybercrime Prevention Act” in the Philippines is an assault to every freedom-loving person’s right to free speech, expression, articulation and critical thought, and a burden to women and children victims of internet violence. GABRIELA USA joins the international community who are shocked at President Noynoy Aquino’s blatant lack of regard for civil liberties as he continuously tramples on Philippine people’s democratic rights.
Supposedly crafted to address such issues as internet pornography, cybersex or cyber prostitution and bullying, what the Cybercrime Prevention Act does not take into consideration is the complicated and borderless nature of online activity and the roots of violence that is perpetrated against women and children. The law is an added burden to women and children forced by poverty to engage in cyber prostitution by further victimizing the prostituted woman or child by placing them under threat of arrest. The law does nothing to address the fact that operators, pimps, and patrons who are often not based in the Philippines can simply log off and evade arrest. The hasty passing of the bill and the last minute inclusion of the provision on libel is also cause for suspicion given that bills like the Reproductive Health Bill, which truly respond to the needs of women and children, gather dust in the chambers of Congress.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act’s controversial provision on libel can be employed to quell any and all opinions that may be critical of the government, especially against the popular mass movement that is active in exposing the failures of the Philippine government, which include human rights violations, corruption and political repression. The provision on libel gives ultimate power to the Philippine government to criminalize any citizen for expressing their thoughts and sentiments. It makes the Philippine government the sole dictator of access to information and discourse.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act has a strange likeness to the highly debated and batted down issues of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the US. The legislative effort to control file-sharing, piracy and hacking, etc. through SOPA and PIPA had clear consequences for widespread censorship and policing of information only with the authorization of power interests, like corporations and imperialist governments. It is clear that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of the Philippines was fathered by US legislative attacks (like SOPA and PIPA) on civil rights.
Given the increase in human rights violations correlated with US aid, this blatant attack on political rights on the Filipino people is particularly despicable as it is done on the backs of women and children victims of electronic sex crimes. President Noynoy Aquino’s disregard for the very principles his father, Ninoy Aquino, died for is truly a testament to his inability to provide thoughtful leadership in the country. Through this act, the Philippines is not only lodging a full blown attack on democratic rights, it is also of concern for peoples all over the world to guard against the infringement of their right to speech, expression, privacy and critical thought.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Philippines is setting an example for a full on attack on free speech, freedom of expression and civil liberties. This type of state fascism, whether online or in the real world, will not fail to catch fire if people everywhere do not stand against it. GABRIELA USA enjoins any freedom-loving person who cherishes the right to free speech, expression and critical thought to sign the growing petition to repeal the Cybercrime Prevention Act at http://www.change.org/petitions/junk-the-cybercrime-prevention-law, and join actions to expose and oppose the Cybercrime Prevention Act.