The youth group Anakbayan today assailed the recent passing of the ‘Anti-Cybercrime Law’, or Republic Act 10175, as ‘a paranoid measure by an onion-skinned administration’.
“It is yet another step backward for basic democratic rights such as the freedom of speech. While there has been widespread clamor to ‘decriminalize’ libel, the Aquino administration instead extended its reach to the Filipino ‘blogsphere’” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan, speaking at a forum on the said law at the University of the Philippines College of Law.
According to him, many legal experts, and even the United Nations, have criticized Philippine libel laws as “an infringement on the freedom of expression”.
“But we are not surprised that President Aquino would support RA 10175. The Internet is one forum where his government cannot supress critics, or drown out dissident voices with propaganda” said the youth leader.
Many critics of the current administration, especially among the youth and students, have either drawn inspiration from ‘Internet culture’ in their protests, or used cyberspace to further air out their views. This was most notable during the inception of the Noynoying form of protest, where thousands ‘liked’ Facebook pages about Noynoying, created ‘memes’ depicting the President while Noynoying, and making the word a ‘trending topic’ on Twitter.
“He is probably afraid that the Internet to him will be what text jokes were to Erap” said Crisostomo, referring to a theory advanced by many social scientists that text (or SMS) messaging contributed to the ouster of former president Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada.
Anakbayan today called for ‘online protests’ against RA 10175, urging Filipino netizens to ‘unleash their creativity against this legal monstrosity’.
“The sky, or rather, the Internet’s the limit on what we can do to protest: blog about your opposition, flood government websites and public officials’ emails with your message, create protest memes, and even more drastic measures” said Crisostomo.