MANILA: Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is standing firm behind the controversial anti-crime law amid the series of lawsuits questioning its legality filed before the Supreme Court (SC), according to a top Malacanang Palace official.
Secretary Edwin Lacierda, the presidential spokesman, stressed that freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Constitution is not absolute and must come with responsibility.
Lacierda said the government position was that there are responsibilities already attached to the country’s print and broadcast media as he pointed out: “What the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 aims is also to attach responsibilities in cyberspace. You’ve got the freedom to report — the freedom of expression is always recognised but freedom of expression is not absolute. We know that for a fact.”
But he said the government welcomed the move of media as well as human rights groups and individuals concerned in asking the High Court to nullify the law for violating freedom of expression.
In particular, the petitioners questioned the insertion of the libel provision contained in the country’s Revised Penal Code, which was enacted more than 80 years ago which imposes imprisonment of up to 12 years.
Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd, one of the petitioners and the lone member of the chamber to vote against the law, clarified he is not against the law.
Guingona agreed there is an urgent need to prevent online hacking and similar crimes but he also believes this could be achieved without jeopardising the basic rights guaranteed by the constitution. Earlier, Senator Francis Escudero admitted the members were “caught napping” when the “outmoded” libel provision was inserted while the Senate was discussing the bill.