Sotto bewildered by uproar over legality of online libel
MANILA, Philippines – “What’s wrong with libel?” so asked Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III amid protests on the Supreme Court’s decision declaring online libel constitutional.
Sotto, who proposed the online libel provision in the Cybercrime Law, said he could not understand the uproar against online libel when a similar law on libel is being imposed on journalists.
“…You are all subject to libel while only a few bad eggs will be subject to online libel. They are only few because majority of netizens are responsible. There are only a few malicious bad eggs,” he told reporters on Wednesday in mixed English and Filipino.
“Why should these malicious bad eggs be given the right to ruin the reputation of people when you, journalists, have to follow the law? That’s the question that they have to answer. What’s wrong with libel …?”
“They have completely misunderstood the word libel. Akala ko pa naman marurunong sila, samantalang kami iskul bukol lang e naiintindihan naming yung Revised Penal Code. Ano ba sila?” he said.
Sotto rejected perceptions that online libel runs counter with the freedom of expression. He said freedom of expression is “alive and kicking” in the Philippines.
He also dismissed allegations that the passage of the cybercrime law, particularly the online libel, was meant to protect legislators, who had been the target of criticisms online.
“Why will I need protection from them? They need protection for themselves, I mean the bad eggs, the malicious bad eggs,” Sotto added.
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