Critics set ‘Black Tuesday’ protest to mark EDSA rites
CRITICS of the Cybercrime Law will stage the first-ever ‘Black Tuesday’ simultaneous with the 28th anniversary celebration of the 1986 People Power in EDSA today, as they denounced the Aquino government for betraying the spirit of EDSA.”
To dramatize their opposition against the new law, which they likened to an E-Martial Law, members of different media organizations and sympathizers will march at EDSA while calling on “netizens’ to stage their own offline protests.
Petitioners against the Cybercrime Law also plan to file separate motions for reconsideration on the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the online libel provision of the Cybercrime Law.
Rowena Paraan, chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said they plan to organize various activities to oppose the Supreme Court decision.
She added that different actions would be held both on the cyberspace and in real time.
Paraan said the Cybercrime Law was not an issue for journalists alone, because this “this will also affect the ordinary citizens.”
Aside from the NUJP, other media groups which will join the protest include the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
The CMF and the PCIJ also agreed to come up with a pooled editorial about online libel and the higher penalty that was upheld as constitutional by the high court.
PCIJ executive director Malou Mangahas, meanwhile, said that there is a need for the public to understand the issue, as they will also be severely affected by the online libel provision in the law.
She added that the online libel provision of the law contradicts the supposed transparency campaign of the government, particularly with the recent launch of the open data website.
The media groups are among the 15 petitioners that questioned the constitutionality of Republic Act 10175, also known as the
Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, before the SC.
The Philippine Press Institute, meanwhile, also rallied behind the petitioners to the high court to review its decision.
PPI chairman Atty. Jesus Dureza said the organization would also ask lawmakers to amend the law to remove the provisions on online libel, Dureza asked the high court to “take a second look at its ruling’ and noted that “it is not only in the Supreme Court where we can seek relief from the unconscionable provisions and jurassic penal sanctions of this new law. We can also go to Congress.”
He also urged the public to “unite and support the move in Congress to decriminaqlize libel and remove the penal sanctions in all statute books that impinge on our in inalienable freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
Opposition to the Cybercrime Law also gained significant support from Congress, as several lawmakers hailed organizers of Black Tuesday for organizing the protest.
Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party-list, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan and House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) all said the protest action was a good sign for the Aquino government to get the public pulse on the CyberCrime Prevention Act.
Zarate said: “I support the Black Tuesday protest to register our outrage against a draconian law ironically rammed to us by the main beneficiary of EDSA People Power.”
Zarate said the Black Tuesday is an ‘indictment of the betrayal of the EDSA spirit’ by President Benigno Aquino III.
Bello, for his part, said that “online libel not only has a chilling effect on the Fourth Estate. It also violates our constitutional freedom of speech and expression.”
“This law has no place in a truly democratic free and civilized society,” he added.
Tugna, an administration ally, said the protest is a good support to the various motions for reconsideration to be filed in the SC against the constitutionality of libel in the internet.
“Freedom of expression should not be curtailed, especially in a medium (internet) that fosters citizens’ scalpel against government abuses,” Tugna added.
Ilagan, meanwhile, said the Black Tuesday protest is a legitimate protest.
“Other countries, far more developed are reviewing their libel laws and decriminalizing libel. It has a chilling effect on media, netizens and ordinary citizens who want to express their freedom of expression. The democratic space gained after Edsa is lost,” she said.
But Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, an oppositionist, said that critics have nothing to fear with the online libel if they think they do nothing wrong.
“Why are they scared of libel if they won’t say anything that is libelous,” Albano said.