For Speaking My Mind, I am Now a Criminal: A Call for Support Against the Cybercrime Law

I don’t, as a rule, post about politics. This is a book review blog, after all, and when I first started it, I’d always intended it to remain such. I may have posted one personal entry about my mother’s influence on my reading habits, but I thought that would be a nice, uplifting piece that was perfect for honoring Mother’s Day.

Now, however, I’m posting for different reasons entirely.

As of midnight today, October 3, 2012 (the Philippines is +8 GMT), the Cybercrime Law went into effect. There are many places one can look up the details regarding this law, so I won’t post them here anymore. Suffice to say, though, that thanks to a libel clause inserted at the last minute by Senator Vicente Sotto III, anyone who says anything “libelous” online about the government, or even private individuals if they feel so inclined, can be charged with libel and punished based on the current Penal Code of the Philippines, which stipulates a sentence of 12 years in jail and bail of one million pesos (more or less $22,000, which very few people in my country can afford anyway).

The problem with this law is clear: “libel” implies “malice,” and malice can be defined any which way one wants. Now imagine applying this to the Internet, and it becomes even more problematic. One can be arrested for a tweet, a Facebook status, or a blog entry that anyone out there can misconstrue. Taken in combination with everything else, the Cybercrime Law is an attempt to gag freedom of speech on the greatest platform for freedom of speech ever created. As a blogger who believes that I have the right to say whatever I want, for or against my own country and its government, on whatever platform I choose, this law is the most horrific thing to happen to my generation: a generation that thought it would never see a day like September 21, 1972 – the day Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and thus laying the groundwork for a ten-year dictatorship.

Now, I know some people may scoff and say that trying to gag the Internet is virtually impossible, that the failure of SOPA, ACTA, and other similar laws to pass is proof-positive of this. I might even say that the government doesn’t truly have the technology or the manpower to do such a thing. But I don’t want to sit around until they finally do. This law has to go, and as soon as possible, before the government gets help from outside forces who would like nothing more than to see us silenced – because if it can work here, surely it can work elsewhere, yes?

Filipinos have been outspoken against SOPA and ACTA. We have lent our voices, along with the rest of the Internet, to the cause of Internet freedom, proving that the Internet has no borders and so cannot be governed by one government’s laws. And now we ourselves are trapped under the influence of a law more draconian than either SOPA or ACTA, since it passed almost before we could fight against it. We need the world’s help in getting the word out, so that they can add their voices to ours and get this law shut down before it gets worse.

Consider this post a call for support. I know my readership is small, and I do not have much influence, but I stand by my people in their struggle against this law, and call out to those who come by here to help us out in our fight against this. We need the world’s help on this.

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