“The passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act also suggests among other possibilities that both Congress and Mr. Aquino have chosen to ignore the 2011 declaration of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) that the Philippine libel law is excessive because it penalizes violators with imprisonment, contrary to the human rights protocols to which the Philippines is a signatory, and therefore must at least be reviewed towards decriminalizing libel. Either that, or the authors of the bills, and Mr. Aquino himself, are unfamiliar with both the UNHRC declaration, as well as with the long-standing demand to decriminalize libel in order to put an end to the use of the libel law to intimidate and silence journalists. Apparently there is little hope that libel will ever be decriminalized, RA 10175 having in effect further strengthened it by widening its application.
Since the law has been published already in the Official Gazette, we will be just counting the days until the law is used to silence citizen journalists and even professional media practitioners. And the law can even be used to cover their personal social media accounts where they might post their thoughts on a public servant’s performance.