SCRAP the cybercrime prevention act now!
1. Historically, the Philippines–US bilateral relationship has always been an unequal and unjust partnership which almost constantly favors America and its global strategic interests. Politically, the Manila-Washington axis continues to be characterized by the former’s dependency on the latter as the Philippines remains chained to America’s economic conditional impositions. And from this material-conscious servitude to US imperialism, springs the Philippine ruling elite’s deliberately forged executive-legislative-judicial infrastructure, and their respective processes which are constitutionally skewed to uphold both countries’ ruling-class agendas. Hence, the Philippine state has long been a loyal copier of American laws and jurisprudence for over a century and still counting.
2. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the USA Patriot Act was swiftly passed by the US Congress in reaction to international terrorism. Until today, this law remains one of America’s most authoritarian and dangerously anti-democratic legal instruments in the hands of the US federal government. Indeed, it is actually a choice weapon of the US Government to fundamentally suppress any type of democratic freedoms, legitimate dissent, and free speech in direct violation of the principled rights inherent to the US Constitution’s First Amendment (part of Bill of Rights). As such, the USA Patriot Act officially provides the US Government with a sweeping authority to spy on individuals inside the United States, and in some instances, without any suspicion of wrongdoing at all.
3. The USA Patriot Act plus other similar American laws (i.e. the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, etc.) presently form a collective set of federal government-controlled legal instruments that act as pillars to a nationally-coordinated state security-surveillance superstructure. The political-security thrust of this legally-upheld state-surveillance infrastructure is to suppress any existing or potential democratic dissent that may yet lead to the undermining of American national security interests as defined by Washington’s own ‘ruling circle of 1%’. The impact of this, however, is to instill a sense of mass fear among the general populace so as to ensure a higher level of compliance to the government’s assertions and to secure broader support towards American national unity in the face of international terrorism.
4. To be clear about this eminent danger, we should also not forget the unabashed and blatant readiness of the US Government to broaden its national state-security doctrinal space. For example, the recently killed bill to enact a Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a recent success story in mobilizing global mass support against a US Congress measure green-lighting cyber-suppression on a massive scale. However, this does not mean that the SOPA initiative is legislatively dead because it can yet be revived in another form and/or manner in the future. Likewise, another dangerous bill that was recently killed in the US Senate was the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. Both of these measures had strong provisions which would have given the US Government even more legal powers to greatly monitor and spy on unsuspecting ordinary netizens in defense of America’s national security. Had both bills been passed into law, the US state security-surveillance superstructure would have been gifted with more enormous powers to largely destroy established American democratic norms and values and with them, the people’s rights and freedoms.
5. Today, more than a decade after the Bush-II White House launched its ‘Global War of Terror’ to terrorize the world into submission, many countries continue to follow America’s lead in ‘state-terrorist legislation’, especially the Philippines. So far, around thirty-three countries allied with America in the Washington-led ‘Coalition of the Killing’ have already passed their own national counterpart versions of the USA Patriot Act. And in the Philippines, our very own Human Security Act of 2007 (the Anti-Terrorism Law/ATL) is a template copy of its American mother-law, including its provisions related to the electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists. Since the country’s old Anti-Subversion Law was repealed in September 1992, the ATL essentially became a replacement law and the first of a developing series of state security-surveillance pillars aping the American state-surveillance superstructure.
6. At present, a major global thrust of many states is to legislate pre-emptive protective measures to prevent their own citizenry from attempting to overthrow authoritarian, anti-democratic, illegitimate, and anti-poor people regimes in the future. A common trend in this area of democratic suppression is to initiate and enforce national laws related to the electronic surveillance of internet systems. The international impact of the wide-scale use of the internet and various social media platforms as transformational weapons during the 2011 Arab Revolutionary Upsurge have not been unnoticed by nervous governments. Thus, many reactionary states are now quickly reacting to disarm these cyber-weapons of mass democratization before their national leaderships are thrown from their shaky thrones by people’s power revolutions tomorrow.
7. Both the Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) and the Cybercrime Prevention Law (CPL) effectively reinforce the US imperialist global thrust to ultimately establish a worldwide infrastructure network of domestic laws aimed at protecting and strengthening national state-security-oriented regimes. This is being pursued by arming pro-US puppet-states with laws to protect themselves from possibly being overthrown by their own sovereign masses employing cyber technology-devices as tools for mass-mobilizing against tyrannical and anti-poor people regimes.
8. Wiretapping by state security forces remains illegal and the state is strictly mandated to uphold the anti-wiretapping law. However, the Cybercrime Prevention Law is today a clear and present weapon of the Philippine state because it now legalizes and legitimizes the wide-scale monitoring of ordinary citizens through cyber-surveillance. In fact, the SOPA provisions on internet monitoring are now silently operational within the legal parameters of the CPL. Thus, potential ‘enemies of the state’ from among the ordinary netizenry can now be selectively and/or wholly targeted by the state without their knowledge because the latter is now legally authorized to do so.
9. Reflective of the gross anti-democratic and authoritarian intentions of the USA Patriot Act, the CPL can already and deliberately be used by the Philippine state to suppress any form of organized democratic dissent and/or resistance (i.e. People’s Power) against the national government. The state can potentially use the CPL to unleash repression against organizations that use and/or rely on the internet system for maintaining the democratic balance while rallying popular support against an already illegitimately-viewed national government. In other words, before another EDSA People’s Power Revolutionary Uprising (or a Tahrir Square revolutionary mass insurrection) can occur, the Philippine state security forces, by applying the CPL, could instantly kill a future democratic revolution in order to uphold an illegitimate, repressive, and much-hated status quo.
10. As of now, Republic Act No. 10175 (the Cybercrime Prevention Law) is already in place as a ready weapon of the Philippine state and just awaiting Malacañang’s orders. Being the second pillar to the ATL’s first pillar as part of a budding overall state-surveillance superstructure in the Philippines, we must all be dreadfully alarmed at this frightful and dangerous trend imposed upon our people by the PNoy Regime. Following the structure and processes of its American counterparts, RA 10175 is now in legal effect and will soon be fully operational once the CPL’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) come out not later than December 11 of this year. And the moment the CPL becomes fully operational, several of its key provisions mirroring some of the US state-surveillance laws can have a long-term damaging impact, with some possible virtual collateral damage, across the Philippine internet community and our society at large.
11. In brief, the cyber-suppression powers of RA 10175 can be seen in at least three separate chapters of the CPL. The suppressive tendency and thrust of this law are mainly found in the following chapters: Chapter I (Preliminary Provisions), Chapter IV (Enforcement and Implementation), and Chapter VII (Competent Authorities). Together, these key chapters contain provisions which allow for a 24/7 spying by the Philippine state of ordinary citizens with the danger that the law may yet be abuse by state security forces in the name of ‘protecting national security’. Likewise, with the very close bilateral diplomatic relationship between Manila and Washington, the latter can easily rely on the Philippine state security-surveillance structure to arrest political activists and dissenters in the Philippines and have them extradited to the US on spurious charges through the use of laws such as the Anti-Terrorism Law and the Cybercrime Prevention Law.
12. This law is a form of cyber-dictatorship. It was signed into law just nine days before our country and people commemorated and remembered the 40th year after the fascist-Marcos Dictatorship was imposed upon our masses in a brutal and bloody manner. Ironically, RA No. 10175 was signed by President Noynoy Aquino who happens to be the son of two prominent victims of Martial Law—the late Senator Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino. Thus, this act itself is felt by many to be a direct injustice to his parents and family, and also especially to the millions of masses who suffered the long night of tyrannical rule and injustice in the Philippines from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986, and even beyond that historic period.
13. SANLAKAS, therefore, calls on the Supreme Court to urgently and immediately strike down this anti-democratic law. We, likewise, call on the Filipino masses to join us and other progressive and allied organizations, such as the newly-formed PIFA (Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance), in a nationwide mass campaign to repeal the CPL and to replace it with a future law that will be the genuine fruit of a truly collective, transparent, and democratic law-making process. Ultimately, this act should directly involve all the concerned stakeholders and aimed at defending our basic democratic rights and freedoms. Never again shall a dictatorship rule over us and suppress our rights in yet another form! No to Cyber-Dictatorship! Stop the Cybercrime Prevention Act now!
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