It’s September 21st – the anniversary of Martial Law here in the Philippines – and I thank our legislators for these two bitter gifts this year:
- An unrepentant plagiarist Mr Tito Sotto to deck our Senate halls – and not a peep from the Senate Ethics committee;
- Extending “libel” to speech uttered in cyberspace – I don’t give a damn about celebrities, it’s the fucking politicians who stand to gain from using bad law (enacted September 12, 2012) to cover their tracks, and deter citizens from aggressive coverage of their actions.
No, it’s not more fun in the Philippines. Democracy here is always under tension, just as it is everywhere else, and the thought of that does not freaking mollify me, thanks.
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I’ll trouble you with another thought: “The truth shall set you free” should really read, in this post-R.A. 10175 Philippines, as: “Truth is no defense against jail time” (highlight mine):
“the UNHRC declared that Philippine libel law under the RPC contravenes freedom of expression on two counts: one, it is a disproportionate means by which to achieve its avowed goal of protecting the privacy of private persons; and two, because there is an alternative in the form of civil libel, or the payment of damages. The UNHRC also took the view that our libel in the Philippines, because it does not recognize truth as a defense, is additionally defective on this ground.”
Not being a lawyer myself, this came as news to me. Anybody else surprised? You or I, or our journalists, for that matter, face harassment online, online now as well (apart from threats mounted through other, sometimes brutal avenues – as through physical violence), and this, with the full force of law and State power to enforce that threat. Good, solid journalism done in the public interest is not enough to protect citizens from having this held over their heads.
We really must thank our legislators for giving this tool over to grafters, as well as the likes of Mr. Tito Sotto, and petty artistas and socialites, who now have a means to intimidate online news outfits, bloggers, and regular citizens with the full force of defective law.
Such a fitting gift to the Filipino citizen, to commemorate the anniversary of Martial Law with, it’s actually fucking brilliant. Damned good timing, parang humabol pa talaga sa deadline.
“There must be some way out of here, said the Joker to the Thief.”