MEDIOCRITY, EGO & DECEPTION
IN CYBER LIBEL
|Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa|
Author of the book entitled "Simplified Libel Law in the Philippines"
What I see in Abigail Valte, Edwin Lacierda and Paquito Ochoa, all lawyers and all President's trustees, is that they are defending the cyber law not because of honest conviction but due to their egos.
I am sure Valte, Lacierdo and Ochoa must have FAILED to advise President P-Noy on the CLEAR UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE LAW that is immediately seen on the face of the law itself.
|Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda|
That failure or omission is mediocrity. It is so because I do not believe that they can afford to put the President in bad light. Any Presidential Act issued by P-Noy must have passed through the peering eyes of the trusted legal lieutenants. So that if one Presidential Act that was issued turns out bad, like the signing by P-Noy of RA 10175, it should be blamed on the legal minds around him.
|Asst. Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte|
At the very least, with many junior lawyers in their disposal, they could have assigned all of them to study the enrolled bill that was Republic Act 10175 in the quickest possible time. The study results must be had quickly because they have a Constitutional deadline for the President to sign or veto it. They must know that if the President cannot act, the same enrolled bill lapses into a law.after 30 days from the day the Office of the President received the bill.
So that, it is easy to see that for the three to defend a clearly-skewed law is only but an ego or pride. Whatever, the three committed serious negligence.
If I were the legal adviser of PNoy, I would tell him straight that as a lawyer it is my duty to tell him what is legal although not necessarily moral. And if the President does otherwise despite my strong advice, innocently or due to the urgings of politicking, I would resign. That is because I do not want to be a party to an ignorance and that is also my duty to the citizens.
Imagine, Valte, Lacierda and Ochoa could have gotten the hint by just knowing the class of crimes considered as Cyber Crimes. The common nature and characteristics in all cyber crimes are that they are committed in a manner the public does not know. Upon the other hand, libel can ONLY be committed if done publicly.
Nevertheless, the bottom line here is: the law being issued MUST BE KNOWN AND UNDERSTOOD BY ORDINARY CITIZENS LIKE PEDICAB DRIVERS, JANITORS, FARMERS, FISHERMEN and others.
It is a part of the Constitutional due process right of the people on the aspect of making laws that there must be a notice to them about the law sought to be applied to them.
In short, the indispensable requirement is to be able to answer faithfully, prudently, impartially and reasonably "YES." If the answer is, "I am in doubt" it means that if you as a legal mind are even in doubt how much more for ordinary citizens?
Now, how can notice to the people be assured all the time if the process of making laws as the Congress does now does not strictly require that any proposal must be literally announced to the people, in writing or on broadcast or through the Internet?
With this, it can be possible that interested congressmen and senators, if they have a majority number, can make shortcuts despite the Constitution's injunction that there must be three readings in making a law, except for the bills certified by the President as urgent.
The lawmakers can do the making of laws by not calling in a public hearing and by just instructing the committees where proposed laws are assigned to just make the final reports as dictated because the members of the committees (of the Senate or the House of Representatives) will just sign their approval for the Second Reading deliberations in a plenary session.
And if the lawmakers, too, have numbers, the Second Reading procedure would only appear as a formality and the same shall be submitted for the Third Reading.
In the Journal of the Senate apparently of the Second Reading, it shows that cyber libel was proposed to be inserted by Senator Tito Sotto to be added and all senators except for TG Guingona approved it.
What is clear here is that cyber libel provision did not pass the first reading. Hence, cyber libel was not a part of the original bills discussed during the public hearings if ever there was one that was conducted. It is therefore a deception to the people because the people were not notified of this action by Senator Sotto and fellow senators except TG Guingona.
Be it known that after a barrage of opposition against this cyber law has been demonstrated, Senator Chiz Escudero and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano openly said they were deceived by this cyber libel insertion and other provisions but it is hard to believe in the alibis they offered.
The chairman of the committee of the House of Representatives in charge of the cyber crime law proposal expressed that their version of the bill did not contain cyber libel. The chairman said he was only surprised that the Senate version contained it when examined at the Bicameral Conference Committee session held to reconcile the differences between the two versions.
If the shortcut is proven, it can be one of my tools to prosecute the Petition for Prohibition I filed to shoot down cyber libel.
In this petition, I showed that there is no compelling State interest to sacrifice the freedom of expression, of speech, and of the press in order to achieve the purpose of ensuring that the computer systems and the data therein are not destroyed or tampered with, which destruction can only be had by means of viruses or the acts of hackers and which tampering can be had by means of gaining access into the computer systems and databases through stealing passwords and hacking into them.
In this petition, I also showed that the means employed, which is to imprison online libelers, will never substantially advance to achieve the purposes of RA 10175, which are to protect computer systems and databases from destruction or alteration or breaches.
So that it is clear.
If Valte, Lacierda and Ochoa demonstrated their mediocrity and ego, the Senate committed an act of deception against the people.