Gensan city council backs moves vs anti-cybercrime law

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 October) — The Sangguniang Panlungsod yesterday passed a resolution asking Congress to repeal or amend the assailed provisions of Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act just hours before the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the law.

Floor Leader Elizabeth Bagonoc, a former anchor and broadcaster at dxCP, said they are supporting the petitions filed by the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines and other media organizations that are questioning the constitutionality of RA 10175.

Bagonoc earlier invited NUJP Gensan-South Cotabato chapter chair Edwin Espejo to appear before the SP to explain the petition of the media group.

Espejo cited at least seven provisions of the law that they deemed were repressive and unconstitutional as he urged the city councilors to rally behind their opposition to the law.

Espejo particularly cited Section 4 of RA 10175 which now defined internet libel as a criminal offense with heavier penalties compared to the libel provision under the Revised Penal Code.

He said the government is turning its back against members of the press who have been calling for the decriminalization of libel.

Bagonoc, who later joined journalists and bloggers in a picket rally at Plaza Heneral Santos Tuesday afternoon, said the resolution was passed unanimously.

“It is our way of expressing our solidarity with the media,” she said.

Councilors Dan Vicente, Eduardo Leyson IV, Lourdes Casabuena and Margareth Santos also endorsed and co-sponsored the resolution.

Santos urged the media to conduct symposia in colleges and universities in the city to educate the students on the dangers of the anti-cybercrime law to the freedom of speech and the press.

“Especially among mass com(munication) students,” Santos said.

Vicente, former manager of Bombo Radyo before he was elected city councilor, agreed with the NUJP that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of the press.

DXCP station manger Philip Salarda said the people should remain vigilant even if the Supreme Court had already issued the TRO.

“The Supreme Court is yet to decide on the main case,” said Salarda, a veteran broadcaster who was active in the anti-Marcos dictatorship movement.

He warned of martial law in the press if RA10175 will not be repealed or amended to remove its “unconstitutional” provisions.

Also on Tuesday, Undersecretary Abigail Valte told reporters in Malacanang the administration would respect the decision of the Supreme Court, although she said they would like to see “the specifics of the TRO.” (MindaNews)