FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2012
Reference: Hanalei Ramos
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
New York, NY – The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a community-based education and advocacy group, called the recent Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, also known as the Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, “a very sinister act by the Philippine government to curtail the rights of the Filipino people, which criminalizes ordinary people for simply expressing their thoughts and views on the internet.””It’s an utter display of arrogance, manipulation and abuse of power by certain Philippine politicians, including the Philippine President Noynoy Aquino,” stated Gary Labao, a member of NYCHRP. Labao also echoed the same position of many Philippine groups have tagged the act a form of “e-martial law” as it is reminiscent of the 1972 declaration in many aspects.According to various reports, the vagueness of the act’s stipulation on libel could lead to many interpretations deeming innocent comments as libelous criminal acts. “The Philippines already has a very flawed justice system, where the poor and marginalized sectors of society have very little chance to, or no hope at all to obtain justice. How can we expect the average Filipino to be able to stand up against this unjust system with this new law?” Labao asked.
Globally, Filipinos are among the top users of major social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter. “The internet has become the most common medium of communication,” explained Krystle Cheirs, a member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment. “For the government to pass a law that would limit the rights of anyone to express themselves, where activating a ‘like’ button can be deemed as ‘libel,’ would be nothing short of fascism,” Cheirs stated.
“Particularly for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the internet is the most accessible means of contact with family and friends in the Philippines. Can you imagine a simple exchange over the internet on updates and opinions on Philippine politics?” posed Cheirs. “With the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, these exchanges could criminalize your loved ones back in the Philippines, and send them to prison,” she concluded.
“This absolutely concerns Filipino youth,” says Yoko Liriano, a student at Hunter College and a youth coordinator for NYCHRP. “Youth use the internet, social media and other outlets in a number of creative ways. Criminalizing the creativity and expression of Filipino youth on the basis of the vague stipulations of the Cybercrime Act. suppresses the rights of young people. This will rob us of a generation of Filipinos who are able to be critical, and able to share their thoughts and views with each other, and abroad,” Liriano comments.
In October, NYCHRP will conduct an information session regarding the Philippines’ Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. “We want to begin the discussion between Filipinos and non-Filipinos in the New York City area, and hope to generate a broad outreach to the larger, internet-savvy community and cyber rights-defenders. It is vital that we build international solidarity to defend that Philippines against the Cybercrime Prevention Act,” Liriano announced. More details for the information session will be announced at www.nychrp.infoin the coming week.
Liriano remarked, “The idea of a world without borders is true over the internet. Now is the time to fight this borderless battle, and defend our internet rights.”