WHY WE OPPOSE CYBERLIBEL?

Statement of Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM)
Contact: ALAM president JERRY S. YAP at 09178980988

WHY WE OPPOSE CYBERLIBEL?

Power of netizens in action in Venezuela
As pledged, Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM), as well as its co-petitioner Hukuman ng Mamamayan Movement Inc. (HMMI), will file a motion for reconsideration against the Decision of the Supreme Court to challenge particularly the ruling that upheld the cyber libel provision of Republic Act No. 10175.


At the beginning, ALAM and HMMI want to clarify that we do not equate civil libel cases to criminal libel cases. 

What we are seeking is to revoke the penal law on libel and make it as a civil liability only. 



Our best justification is that internet is the People's Medium. It is because it is the only platform that can easily be accessed by all 31 million Filipinos at a click of their fingers in order for them to express.  

And if it is the only available tool of expression exercise for the people, why then put obstacles and fears to the people in their exercise of the freedom of expression in the internet?  We must consider that the source of all powers is the group called "people."  

And if it is so, who then is the Supreme Court to go against the Voice of the People that is the Voice of God?  Vox Populi, Vox Dei!  


So that postings on Facebook and other social network sites, should not be considered as criminal libels no matter the harshness of the opinions or the falsity of facts.  

The first justification is that the State can come only to the aid of individuals if there is no other remedy that can be used by those individuals; the State's machinery and time for prosecution and trial should not be spent for problems where remedies are available for exhaustion by those who are only lazy to respond to accusations or name-calls at them.    The principle of the doctrine of administrative exhaustion applies with much vigor here. 

In the case of Facebook and other social network sites, any curse at you can be equalized by your response in a click of the keyboard.  That if you have the power of evidence, all you have to do is to post that evidence and you win the discourses.


The second justification is that it is the PEOPLE'S MEDIUM.  

No less than the Supreme Court, in its decision upholding cyber libel, recognized the fact that there are 31 million Filipinos using Facebook alone as stated in its decision upholding cyber libel.


If the people, ordinary individuals who became intelligent of the national issues because of daily interaction, are using the medium, the Supreme Court should vow to People.  

This is because of the rule, Vox Populi Vox Dei, and because of the fact and the declaration in the Constitution that sovereignty resides in the People and all powers emanate from them.

The proof that it is the people's medium is the decision itself of the Supreme Court that says there are 31 million Filipinos on Facebook alone, making Philippines as the 6th most populous country in the Facebook world.

The country's success depends on how educated its people are and how active they are in terms of participation of national and local issues.  It is indispensable to make the people educated in order for them to be intelligent in voting in elections, referendums and plebiscites.

The voices of the people heard on Facebook are the reasons that the government has quickly acted on.   Those missteps and negligence raised by the people in the efforts on Yolanda, Bohol earthquake and Zamboanga siege were immediately seen by the government, paving the way for better responses.

The voices of the internet massed up in Luneta to stage the first Netizens' Power Rally called "Million March", leading to better education that lead to the crash of pork barrel.  

This march was born from defamatory and inflamed postings by ordinary people, cursing Janet Lim Napoles, the lawmakers and their ilk.   If not for the extreme anger developed by those uninhibited exchanges, there could have been no sufficient passion that could drive them to Luneta.

If we make this as a matter of policy, the benefits it gives far outweighs the interests to prevent prejudices that may be suffered by individuals who may claim they were bullied.  Again, these individuals know how to post their replies, too, and to bully in defense if they must.


The third justification that the Supreme Court also recognized in the same case is the fact that internet is much different from newspapers, televisions and radios.

In newspapers, only its editors, publishers and reporters have the access and control on what should be published; unlike in internet that all have easy access, in fact very quick access, to publish anything.

In television stations, only there respective members have the access to use the broadcast facilities.  

In radio stations, the same is the nature as in TVs.

The fourth justification is that the jails will be swarmed with libelers on the internet.

If only 1 percent of 31 million commits libel every month, then there will be a need to file 310,000 cases of libel a month and this means 3.73 million persons charged with libel in one year.

Is this practical?  Of course, no.

The fifth justification is that the people are not journalists who are trained and experienced so that proper and better conduct is always expected of them.

So that it is a violation of the equal protection clause to class the people in the same group of journalists.


Please join us in this advocacy for the people.
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