The public backlash against the cybercrime bill, or certain parts thereof, must have nudged President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to consider the option of removing criminal liability for libel. During the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum the other day, Wednesday, President Aquino said that he favors decriminalizing libel. After signing the Cybercrime Law, with the “brilliantly” inserted provision on libel, President Aquino has changed his mind after one month.
So let’s revisit our poll on whether libel should be decriminalized.
We previously noted that as the law now stands, libel carries both civil and criminal liabilities. The civil liability is the payment of damages. The criminal liability is imprisonment, fine or both. We also noted that there were proposed laws filed in Congress seeking the removal of the criminal liability (or limit it to fines, without imprisonment) for libel. It’s all academic now because the CyrberCrime Law reaffirms the criminal nature of libel. Worse, the new law made online libel (yes, online libel was already present even before this law) a more serious offense by increasing the imposable penalty of imprisonment.
Are you happy with that? Let’s hear from you through the comment section below or through the poll. You are encouraged to state your reasons and arguments to make this a meaningful and informative discussion.