Tag Archives: Civil Political Rights

[Blog] An Unconstitutional Law: A Discourse on the Cybercrime Law by Jose Mario De Vega

An Unconstitutional Law: A Discourse on the Cybercrime Law

I refer to the burning issue of the day that concerns our society as a whole. This pertains to the new measure enacted by the Legislative and signed into law by the Chief Executive. I am specifically referring to RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

I overwhelmingly concur with the contention advanced by the Human Rights Online Philippines in condemning the said law. As they directly expressed it in an official statement wherein they stated that they:

“…stands against the present state of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law and we demand that such law must be consistent with human rights standards and perpetrators behind this spiteful law be held accountable.”

Further, they added that:

“RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is a State crime and an assault against the human rights of the people. HRonlinePH.com is one with the Filipino netizens in condemning its intention to deliberately go against our right to defend human rights online.

“Under the law, activists and human rights defenders will be the obvious and primary target of attacks by guilty politicians and government officials. The intentional inclusion/insertion of treacherous provisions poses great danger to defenders utilizing the internet in its work to promote, defend and assert human rights against violators from the government.

“The law is an obvious assault to many of the peoples’ rights both activists and ordinary citizens like free speech, freedom of expression, due process and among others. It is inconsistent with government’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights as provided in the Bill of Rights under the Philippine constitution and international Bill of Rights.”

There is no shadow of doubt that this law is sinister and nefarious by virtue of that irrefutable fact that it attacks the fundamental basic rights of the citizens with regard to their right to free speech, freedom of expression, political rights and the right to believe.
Hence, the citizens and various cause-oriented groups joined forces and troops to Padre Faura to ask the Supreme Court to questioned before the Highest Court of the law its legality and constitutionality.

In the words of attorney JJ Disini:

“Indeed, various petitions have been lodged in the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the Act’s provisions relating to libel, increased penalties, real-time collection of traffic data and the so-called takedown provision.”

Undeniably, “the law is also a blatant breach of the Government’s obligation and commitment to the United Nation International Covenant on Civil Political Rights.”

Article 19 of the (ICCPR) clearly states that:

1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
I echo once again the Human Rights Online Philippines on their statement that:

“Certainly we need a law that would protect the people from cyber criminals and it’s our elected officials’ obligation to provide us one. But we cannot allow a law that would be used to suppress any of our democratic rights and freedom may it be on the internet or on the grounds. We must not allow any law that violates standards and protection of our rights.

“We challenge and demand that PNoy government fulfill its duty and obligation to protect us. Protect the people from cyber criminals and from any form of attacks of human rights violators from the government.

“We reiterate and assert that it is our right to defend human rights offline and online and any law that would violate these rights must be junked and perpetrator must be held accountable!”
It is my firm conviction that this law is constitutionally infirm on the following constitutional aberrations:

1. The provision on libel is unconscionable, oppressive and arrogant. Further, the trending in almost all civilized judicial world today is tilting to the decriminalization of this flimsy and stupid law; yet in this country this law is still being used and utilized to the maximum by the powers that be in attacking political activists, journalists, bloggers, etc. this is utterly ironic, “instead of bringing its libel legislation in line with its UN treaty obligations, the Philippines has set the stage for further human rights violations by embedding criminal libel in the “cybercrime” law.” What a shame! The whole world knows that: “It is obviously the intention of the malicious provisions of the law for guilty politicians to protect themselves by depriving the people of venues for airing demands and remedy for their issues.”

2. This preposterous law violates the rule against double jeopardy “since the acts and the crime of online libel are the same as that defined in the Revised Penal Code” hence there is a dangerous tendency for an offender to be penalized twice for the same offense. Consider the following: a person could be sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for posting online comments judged to be libelous. This is indeed, grossly unjust and oppressive, to say the least!

3. This law violated the Protection Clause
In the words of counsel Disini, “”since the online libel law targets the fundamental right to free speech, the onus is upon the government to demonstrate a compelling state interest in penalizing online libel in this manner, and show that there was no less restrictive alternative available to promote that interest.

4. This law violates the constitutional provision against unreasonable searches and seizure. Further, by empowering various state agencies to launch surveillance against suspects and suspicious netizens, this law clearly violates the right of the citizens to their privacy, so as their communication.

5. The so-called takedown provision. Indeed, this is the most sinister and utterly odious provision of this dangerous law. Said provision “authorizes the DOJ to block access to any content upon a prima facie (or first glance) finding of a violation of the provisions of the Act.” Hence, it logically follows that under this scenario, “the DOJ has effectively become the judge, jury and executioner without the benefit of a trial or a conviction established beyond reasonable doubt.”

6. The Question of the Public Interest

Public Interest is defined as “the welfare of the general public (in contrast to the selfish interest of a person, group, or firm) in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies.”

While Wikipedia defined the term thus:

“The public interest refers to the “common well-being” or “general welfare”. The public interest is central to policy debates, politics, democracy and the nature of government itself.”
From the two definitions given, one can deduced incontestably that public interest means the interest of the whole public and the protection of the general welfare.

I am wondering aloud, where the hell is the advancement or the protection of the public interest in this law?

There is no iota of doubt that this Cybercrime law undeniably threatens free speech and the right thing to do is for the Congress to either review it or repeal its unconstitutional provisions.

In the case of Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S.46 (1988), the United States Supreme Court speaking through Chief Justice Rehnquist stated that:

“At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern.

“The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.

“We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.”

On this juncture, may I highlight that I also agree with the position taken by the Amnesty International in their stand with regard to this issue:

“The ‘cybercrime’ law rolls back protections for free speech in the Philippines. Under this law, a peaceful posting on the Internet could result in a prison sentence.”

Further, Isabelle Arradon, the deputy Asia director at Amnesty International added that:

“The law, which came into effect on Wednesday, broadly extends criminal libel (defined in the Philippines as the public and malicious imputation of a discreditable act that tends to discredit or dishonour another person and which currently exists under the Revised Penal Code) to apply to acts “committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future”.

“It also increases the criminal penalties for libel in computer-related cases.

“In January 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee found the Philippines’s criminalization of libel to be “incompatible” with the freedom of expression clause in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The Philippine constitution establishes that ‘no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech’”.

In the stirring words of Dr. Zosimo Lee, former Dean of College of Social Science and Philosophy at the University of the Philippines:

“The Cybercrime Law is inviting non-compliance because it is perceived to be unfair and undemocratic. Non-compliance from citizens, if it reaches critical levels, should be worrisome to any legitimate government because it can weaken the whole force of the law and hobbles effective administration. And when the force of the law is weakened, the legitimacy of any government becomes suspect on the whole.”

On this note, I would like to commend the Supreme Court in issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) days ago which effectively suspend the execution and implementation of the said law pending the examination and determination of the said Court of its legality and constitutionality.

It is my hope and a great number of our people that eventually the Honorable Court as the last bastion of Freedom, Justice and Fairness will rule that the said law is unconstitutional!

Until then, until that judgment and judicial pronouncement of the Court, it is our passionate and firm will to continue to fight this unjust, unfair and illegal law in whatever means we means necessary.

Hence, it is our collective shouts and screams that:

It is not a crime to criticize government inaction and irresponsibility, it is our right!
It is not a crime to expose government violations, it is our right!
It is not a crime to assert and defend our rights, it is our right!
But it is a CRIME by the Government to violate our internet freedom because it is our human rights!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
October 11, 2012

The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

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Choice na kikilalanin sa 2013 HR week celebration.

Makiisa sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon hinggil sa karapatang pantao. Pindot na!

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[Statement] RA 10175 is an Anti-Cybercrime Law that criminalizes internet freedom an assault to human rights! -HRonlinePH.com

RA 10175 is an Anti-Cybercrime Law that criminalizes internet freedom an assault to human rights!

Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH.com), a group of human rights defenders online, stands against the present state of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law and we demand that such law must be consistent with human rights standards and perpetrators behind this spiteful law be held accountable.

RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is a State crime and an assault against the human rights of the people. HRonlinePH.com is one with the Filipino netizens in condemning its intention to deliberately go against our right to defend human rights online.

Under the law, activists and human rights defenders will be the obvious and primary target of attacks by guilty politicians and government officials. The intentional inclusion/insertion of treacherous provisions poses great danger to defenders utilizing the internet in its work to promote, defend and assert human rights against violators from the government.

The law is an obvious assault to many of the peoples’ rights both activists and ordinary citizens like free speech, freedom of expression, due process and among others. It is inconsistent with government’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights as provided in the Bill of Rights under the Philippine constitution and international Bill of Rights.

The law is also a blatant breach of the Government’s obligation and commitment to the United Nation International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR) which states that;

Article 19
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

Certainly we need a law that would protect the people from cyber criminals and it’s our elected officials’ obligation to provide us one. But we cannot allow a law that would be used to suppress any of our democratic rights and freedom may it be on the internet or on the grounds. We must not allow any law that violates standards and protection of our rights.

We challenge and demand that PNoy government fulfill its duty and obligation to protect us. Protect the people from cyber criminals and from any form of attacks of human rights violators from the government.

We reiterate and assert that it is our right to defend human rights offline and online and any law that would violate these rights must be junked and perpetrator must be held accountable!

It is obviously the intention of the malicious provisions of the law for guilty politicians to protect themselves by depriving the people of venues for airing demands and remedy for their issues.

It is not a crime to criticize government inaction and irresponsibility, it is our right!
It is not a crime to expose government violations, it is our right!
It is not a crime to assert and defend our rights, it is our right!
But it is a CRIME by the Government to violate our internet freedom because it is our human rights!

 

[From the web] Cybercrime law violates Intl rights obligations of Aquino Govt -Karapatan

Cybercrime law violates Intl rights obligations of Aquino Govt
by Karapatan
October2, 2012

Karapatan today joined activists, netizens, journalists, bloggers, organizations and individuals in a protest action in front of the Supreme Court, to call on the high court to declare the Cybercrime Law unconstitutional; as the measure, which is due to take effect on Oct.3, “poses serious threats to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression, among other civil and political rights.”

Members of the organization flashed tablets with electronic posters tagging the Cybercrime Law as a form of “e-martial law,” likening the law to the forms of suppression on civil and political rights by the military dictatorship imposed by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general and one of those who filed a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Act, said that aside from the law’s provisions on libel, the said measure gives free rein on authorities to monitor internet traffic data of internet users and to take down sites which they deem “libelous.”

Read full article @ www.karapatan.org

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Statement] Unless the yoke of exploitation and oppression are broken, we are all prisoners! – REHAS

by REHAS

The struggle to effect the release of Political Prisoners/ Alleged Political Offenders (PPs/APOs) in the Philippines has been an arduous work to do knowing that under the present capitalist run state, the struggle for change to improve the lives of the poor, oppressed and exploited masses has been suppressed by the State using its apparatuses (Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, Prison, Court, Police & Military), the very major reason why freedom fighters, human rights advocates and revolutionaries are being arrested, criminally charged, and detained, in fact, under a class society like the Philippines, the State is always an instrument used by the ruling class to suppress the subordinate class. But once they are arrested and detained, they will face another world of struggle in a limited showground but very hard to overcome. It is a struggle against personal loneliness, social alienation, political demoralization, economic deficiency, family dislocation and most of them, the worries on how to win battles inside the courtroom. The truth of the matter under the current system of society, everyone is a prisoner (the yoke of poverty and oppression) both those outside and inside detention center and unless the yoke of exploitation and oppression are broken, we are prisoners!

As of March 3, 2003, REHAS Inc. has monitored 190 Political Prisoners/Alleged Political Offenders (PPs/APOs) who are still languishing in 58 different detention centers all over the country. There are many political prisoners across the country if we are going to pool together all data from TFDP, KARAPATAN, PAHRA, MAG, BALAY, and other human rights organizations. The government through its judicial branch, charges the APOs/PPs of common crimes, despite that the act they committed were in pursuit of their political belief. Some were arrested and detained because of mere suspicion that they were associated with a revolutionary organization. Jail situations remain to be a place not suited for human being (not well ventilated, seldom PPs are exposed to sun light, insufficient supply of food, no recreation center and most often, PPs are being harassed by jail guards, visitors are being taxed by some jail guards, etc.), the very reason why there is a need for prison reforms. Another problem face by PPs/APOs is the cost of hiring a “competent” lawyer to handle their cases, and posting bail bands, such demands expensive fees, in which families and relatives can’t afford. Families and relatives seldom visited their love ones in jail because of economic difficulties. The split within the progressive movement has also contributed negative impact to APOs/PPs, their next of kin and to the over-all fight to free all political prisoners in this country and therefore, the need to unite all these groups into one call and first time in the history after the split that sometime on February 14, 2011, REHAS through the effort of Juanito Itaas, we were able to unite the said PPs from various blocks (RPM-P/RPA-ABB, CPP-NPA, MLPP, MILF and MNLF) into one common call which resulted into a joint manifesto signed by them calling the Office of the President, DOJ, OPAPP and CHR to release all political prisoners regardless of political affiliations. If the APOs/PPs have already started to unite among themselves, I think there is no reason that political blocks and cause-oriented groups and revolutionary parties in this country cannot also unite for a common call and that is to help free all political prisoners in this country.

The call to free all alleged political offenders and political prisoners is a legitimate demand, not merely a tactical call, but must be a continuous fight because there will always be political prisoners as long as the system is not change.

[Press Release] TFDP launches “4 O’clock Habit” in Facebook to appeal for the release of an ailing political prisoner

Amidst the issue of VIP treatment for former Governor Leviste that resulted to the resignation of the New Bilibid Prison Director Ernesto Diokno, rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) urged President Aquino to release an ailing prisoner.

The group used the social networking site Facebook to solicit support by asking their friends to post an online prayer every 4PM for Mariano Umbrero, a political prisoner diagnosed with cancer. “We pray for Umbrero’s health and that God may touch P-Noy’s heart and convince him to exercise his power to grant executive clemency to Tatay Umbrero whose health is deteriorating rapidly,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP said.

According to TFDP, the campaign is part of the S.O.S. Appeal Campaign for the release of Tatay Umbrero that started last month with sending of letters to President Aquino and concerned government agencies.

Mariano Umbrero, a political prisoner and currently serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prison-NBP (national penitentiary) is in extremely critical state due to diagnosed lung cancer.

Based on his clinical abstract after a medical check-up conducted at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) dated January 31, 2011, Umbrero acquired Non-Small Cell Carcinoma Stage 4. Some few weeks back, Umbrero complained of difficulty in breathing and had a sudden episode of intense epigastric pain which was severe enough to warrant admission in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of NBP hospital. Aside from the said medical findings, Umbrero is also suffering from multiple organ problems that include his heart and liver.

“We laud DOJ Secretary De Lima’s decisive action on reforming NBP as result of the special treatment given to rich prisoners like former Governor Leviste.  We are saddened by the realities that while rich criminals are given privileges, political prisoners who came from and fought for the poor remain in prison and are treated like criminals,” said Amistad.

“We are also disappointed with the Office of the President’s reply to our various letters of appeal with regards to Tatay Umbrero’s condition.  We were referred to the Board of Pardons and Parole. Even DOJ Secretary De Lima responded the same way by just giving referral to the Board of Pardons and Parole who have taken no action up to now.  It is urgent and imperative to free Tatay Umbrero now. Let him spend his remaining days with his loved ones. Let him breathe the air of freedom,” Amistad added.

“Tatay Umbrero has suffered more than enough.  He was also a victim of Martial Law.  His condition qualifies for pardon and even executive clemency. Let Tatay Umbrero experience freedom before it’s too late.  The BPP was able to release rich criminals like Jalosjos and others, why can’t they do it with Tatay Umbrero?” Amistad concluded.

PRESS RELEASE
June 9, 2011

For more information please contact:
Egay Cabalitan
TFDP-Advocacy Staff
Mobile Nos. 09219645017
Tel: 437-80-54
Email: egay.advocacytfdp@gmail.com

Pampanga ID plan faces protests – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Pampanga ID plan faces protests – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Pampanga ID plan faces protests
By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk First Posted 18:54:00 03/31/2011 Source: Inquirer.net

 

Among Ed Panlilio source: FB

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines—The provincial government plans to impose a village registry system that would allow authorities to detect strangers, who may be car thieves, or warehouses that may have been coopted by car theft syndicates.

But civil rights groups have objected to the plan because, they say, it may violate privacy rights.

Fr. Eddie Panlilio, former Pampanga governor and now chair of the human rights group Defend-Central Luzon, said the proposed barangay information system and safety plan (BISSP) is illegal and unconstitutional.

The plan, contained in a proposed ordinance, was certified by Gov. Lilia Pineda as urgent when she sent it to the provincial board.

Advocates of the measure took note of the fact that the police had uncovered at least six hideouts of two car theft rings in Pampanga.

Panlilio said the BISSP was designed as a barangay identification system, which “violates the right to privacy and movement.”

The Supreme Court had ruled in 1995 that a proposed national ID system is unconstitutional, he said.

“Would a public official allow [their] children’s [mobile phone] numbers to find their way to public data banks, for example? Would carnappers have their personal data [out] in the open? The proposed ID system then will give more problems than offer solutions,” Panlilio said.

The Kapampangan Kontra ID (K2ID) said BISSP “threatens our rights to privacy and security because information involving our private persons, including our properties and relations, are going to be generated, inventoried, stored and centralized at the barangay, town and provincial levels in the name of ‘curbing criminality.’”

K2ID is a group of town-based civil society organizations.

K2ID said Pineda’s proposal, which many believe is supported by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was an “overreaction” to the rise of criminality in the province.

“Instead of compelling the Philippine National Police units to perform their duties … the proposed ordinance intends to create a database that opens the people to abuse by authorities. Citizens must not be made to suffer the failure of the PNP in crime-fighting and prevention,” the group said.

Pineda on Thursday said she certified the measure as urgent last Feb. 7 to “protect lives and communities, ensure peace and order that is needed in economic development.”

In her letter to the board, Pineda said there was a need for the ordinance “considering the urgency of addressing the adverse effects of criminality and lawlessness on the provision of our basic services which we owe to our province and to our people.”