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Two days of protest actions were held urging the repeal of the controversial cybercrime law in the Philippines, which seeks tough penalties against all forms of Internet-based libel including those that appear in blogs, tweets and Facebook feeds.
An information session called “Internet Rights are Human Rights” was held October 8th followed by a silent picket in front of the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue the following day.
The NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) , which organized both protest actions, said the group was “in solidarity” with Filipinos all over who have voiced their protest against the recently passed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, widely denounced as a violation of free speech.
Two petitioners against the law — Atty. Terry Ridon, president of the Kabataan Party List, and blogger Tonyo Cruz of the newly-formed Bloggers and Netizens for Democracy – spoke to the New York protesters via video tele-conferencing. Ridon explained some of the controversial aspects of the law, especially its retroactive application. He said old blog posts that may be deemed “libelous” may be used against the authors. Cruz, who spoke from an Internet cafe in Metro Manila, stressed the important role of ‘netizens’ outside of the Philippines in exposing the hidden dangers of the legislation.
Even as the Supreme Court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the implementation of the law, the activists went ahead with plans to mount a “silent rally” at the Philippine Consulate on October 9th.
With black tape covering their mouths, the marchers drew attention to their demand that the cybercrime law be junked, as a stream of curious tourists and pedestrians slowed down to take a look.
“The TRO is great news because it allows us to conduct more creative actions, help spread awareness on the law, and also establish broader international solidarity against the law,” said Gary Labao of the NYCHRP. - The FilAm