MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III is now planning to file a bill seeking to junk the libel law.
“Gusto nila magpa-file naman ako ng bill, alisin na natin ang libel para pwede ko na rin silang murahin (If they want, I will file a bill to remove libel so I can also engage them in mudslinging),” Sotto said in an interview over radio on Wednesday.
“Pwede, alisin natin para parehas na ang laban. Maganda yan, pag-aaralan ko yan hanggang Lunes (We can remove that to have a fair play. That’s a good idea. I will study that until Monday),” he said.
“Alisin na natin ang gag sa masama broadcast, sa radyo, sa TV. Kung malaya sa Internet, pwede silang mambastos, mambaboy…gawin na din natin sa media. Kailangan pare-parehas,” Sotto added.
Asked if he was serious about his proposal, the senator said, “Oo, tinatabla lang natin sila sa inyo (Yes, we’re just levelling the playing field.)”
“Hindi na decriminalizing, removing. Magda-draft ako in the next few days (We will no longer decriminalize libel, we will remove it altogether. I will make a draft in the next few days),” he said.
It was Sotto who proposed the libel provision in the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. And he defended his decision to include libel as one of the punishable offenses in the law.
Sotto insisted that the online libel was not meant to gag Internet users from posting criticisms against any person or official in government but only against cybersex, and libelous materials.
“Gusto nilang i-criticize ako, e di i-criticize ako nila ako basta huwag lang libelous. Huwag lang yung nambabastos , nambababoy kung tawagin below the belt kasi kung gusto nila ng ganun, pwede din ako dun (If they want to shame me, then do so as long they don’t make it libelous, below the belt…),” he added.