Davao groups agree on alliance vs. cybercrime law

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 19 October) —Various groups opposing Republic Act (RA) 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act have agreed to form a citywide alliance against the controversial law.

In a meeting here Thursday, they agreed to unify their initiatives to combat the cybercrime law through the alliance that they will soon launch.

“It is better to have a unified stand to call for either the amendment or repeal of the law,” lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate, of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and the second nominee of Bayan Muna partylist, told reporters.

He said both the traditional and the new media, including bloggers, media practitioners and ordinary internet users, should be united because “the issue cuts across ideological lines.”

“Everybody is affected,” Zarate added.

He asked the people not to lower their campaign just because a 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) for RA 10175 was issued since “the threat is still there and the danger is imminent.”

Zarate said the cybercrime law is a litmus case on human rights for the Supreme Court (SC) under Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“We have to consider the politics inside, especially that Sereno is unpopular and so you will never know her direction,” he said.

The SC has set the oral argument for the cybercrime law on January 15.

Worse than martial law

RA 10175 is worse than the martial law of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Zarate said.

He said the cybercrime law violates “almost all provisions” in the Bill of Rights like the rights to dissent, expression, freedom of the press, substantive due process, and against unreasonable search and seizure, among others.

Zarate said the cybercrime law merely describes how libel is committed but does not define cyber libel.

It could have stated the specific means of committing cyber libel such as by posting and tweeting, just as libel is defined in the Revised Penal Code as can be committed by printing and other similar means, he added.

The real purpose of the cybercrime law is “to threaten the people so they will not dissent,” Zarate stressed.

Creativity

The Kaliwat Performing Artist Collective, a city-based cultural organization, has resorted to artistic and creative performances in instilling critical thinking to the public against the cybercrime law, said executive director Oscar Casaysay.

“Collectively, we are against the cybercrime law and we have our own studies on burning issues to educate our members and come up with a unified stand,” he said.

The alliance against cybercrime law should be clear on its stand whether to amend some provisions of RA 10175 or repeal it, Casaysay said.

Other convening groups include Himati, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao, Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, partylist groups Bayan Muna, Kabataan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Gabriela, and Women Studies and Resources Center-Southern Mindanao.

Individual conveners also include Daphne Padilla of the Ateneo de Davao University and Jorge Golle of the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM).

Golle said AFRIM is in the process of formulating its stand on cybercrime law, but as an individual, he is against it.

Cybercrime law affects the thrusts of AFRIM as a research and advocacy organization as it has employed the cyberspace in spreading its campaign, he said.

Golle noted that AFRIM has three program components: natural resources, which tackles mining, logging and land-grabbing issues; sustainable development that promotes organic agriculture and opposes genetically modified organism; and human rights and gender.

“With our programs, we contradict the interests of some companies, groups and individuals. As we use the cyberspace, which is the fastest way to spread our advocacies and researches, cybercrime law is a threat to us,” he told reporters. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)

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