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PNoy wants libel to stay on cybercrime law

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—President Benigno Aquino III is not in favor of removing the controversial provision on online libel in the newly passed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. “Ako po’y hindi sang-ayon na tatanggalin natin ['yung libel provision],” Aquino told reporters here Friday, adding netizens should have accountability for everything they write or post on the Internet. Interviewed at the sidelines of the oath-taking of Liberal Party candidates here, Aquino said libel is libel, no matter what medium is used. “Kung meron kang [sinulat] na libelous, meron kang pananagutan. Kung ikaw naman ay broadcaster at sinabi mo sa radyo o sa TV, may pananagutan ka rin. Kung parehong libelous ang sinabi mo, dumaan ka sa Internet, ay siguro libelous pa rin ho ‘yon,” he said. At least 10 petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court challenging RA 10175, which Aquino signed last Sept. 12 and took effect Oct. 3, particularly the provision on online libel. Some lawmakers have also expressed interest in amending the law. Aquino said he would not hesitate to sign a “corrected” law. “So kung masobra ‘yung penalty, e ‘di amyendahan po; kung masyadong arbitrary ‘yung ibang procedures, wala pa hong [implementing rules and regulations] ‘di ilagay na rin doon sa batas para walang abuse naman on the powers that the state will be exercising,” he said. He also reiterated that he has no power to delete certain provisions of the law. “Wala ho sa kapangyarihan ko na i-delete ‘yung provision on libel, for instance.” Aquino maintained that his administration is “not for the suppression of speech.” He said he signed the bill into law because of the necessity to have a legislation that would curb illegal acts on cyberspace like pornography and computer fraud.   “Pinili ko po pirmahan ito dahil palagay ko nga kailangang tugunan itong mga krimen na hindi ganoon kaliwanag sa ating mga batas [gaya ng] identity fraud and other computer-related crimes [like] forgery, computer-related fraud [and] content-related offenses like child pornography,” he said. For the meantime, he said the executive department will implement the law pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the petitions.  “Kami po ‘pag hindi namin pinatupad itong batas na ito, pwede kaming liable ng dereliction of duty. Pwede po akong ma-impeach ‘pag hindi ko in-enforce ‘yung mga batas ng ating bansa,” he said. — KBK, GMA News