Youth group reminds ‘hypocrite’ Aquino: Cybercrime law crafted under your watch
MANILA, Philippines – A youth group has chided former president Benigno Aquino III for washing his administration’s hands over the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, reminding him that he signed it into law in the first place.
In a statement on Friday, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) claimed that Aquino’s yearning to shield his administration from criticisms spurred the creation of such a law, which brings libel to cyberspace.
Aquino recently defended Republic Act No. 10175, as discussions about it peaked after Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa and a former reporter were found guilty of cyber libel over a story that supposedly maligned businessman Wilfredo Keng.
“Mr. Aquino’s self-preservation tactic for his administration’s legacy comes to bite itself in the ass when it was he who signed the Cybercrime Law in 2012 disregarding the numerous petitions filed against it before the Supreme Court to strike it down for its unconstitutionality,” Spark said.
“We don’t forget so easily, Mr. Aquino. We remember how you used the law to scare off critics and now it will continue to be a tool against those who harm the interests of the government and the ruling class. History is now judging you for your hypocrisy. No matter what justifications you use, you are far from being a champion of freedom of speech,” they added.
Spark’s remarks came after Aquino, in an interview with Rappler, said that the Cybercrime Prevention Act was not intended to curtail press freedom but to go after purveyors of fake news.
But the group noted that even if R.A. 10175 was not trying to silence dissent and free speech as a whole, the good intentions of the said law was “undermined” by the libel provisions.
“Human rights groups and progressive organizations had already warned of its possible dangers to Filipino citizens’ rights to free speech and dissent during his administration, yet Aquino simply dismissed these concerns, and it appears his attitude remains unchanged long after his term concluded,” Spark said.
“Let us not forget that in 2012, it was Aquino’s liberal ‘democratic’ regime which suppressed the freedom of speech of ordinary Filipinos through the unchecked passage of the cybercrime law. Today, it is Duterte’s fascist regime which benefits from the same law to silence its own critics despite the facade of supposed respect towards freedom of speech,” they added.
Even before Aquino signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the then-bill was met with widespread protests and petitions calling on the Supreme Court to junk it for being unconstitutional.
Despite most of the Aquino administration supporters joining hands with the current opposition, the former president was often criticized for his alleged relaxed nature, leading people to think that he was slacking off at work.
This prompted activist groups to create the protest term “Noynoying,” a barb using Aquino’s nickname, which is thrown to people with questionable work ethic. It was also a street protest that pays homage to the planking stunt — but done with people being relaxed and idle even with the troubles around them.
Critics of Aquino’s regime believe that R.A. 10175 was aimed at people who questioned his policies and poked fun at him.
Aquino has defended the bill numerous times. In 2014, he also insisted that it would not curtail press freedom, as journalists’ rights have limits too.
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