Archive for October, 2012

City Mayor’s support of Cybercrime Law shows wish to quell critical discourses online, mistakes valid criticisms with “malicious attacks”


Press Statement

October 10, 2012

 

In an interview published at today’s issue of SunStar Baguio, City Mayor Mauricio Domogan expressed support on the controversial Cybercrime Law as he claimed to have been a victim of cyber-bullying. The incumbent mayor raised concerns that the law can redress “acts of ridicule and malicious attacks” which could become rampant especially now that the election is months away.

This rhetoric by the incumbent mayor still planning to run for reelection next year seems to resound that of Senator Tito Sotto who also claimed to be a victim of Cyber-bullying after anomalies of plagiarism plagued him last month. It is as if these public officials are so divested of power that they are easily maimed by remarks made against them in the internet. They are in fact reversing the situation by making themselves look like the victim of discourses which they control and where they actually dominate. As the internet becomes a viable and widely-used tool to participate in the discourses in the community, a participation that is already stifled in other avenues through bureaucratic measures such as the No-Permit No-Rally policy and the constant breaching of the people’s right to peaceful assembly, opinions of the people with regard to their community and their public officials are conveniently aired online. The Cybercrime Law masks the potential of quelling even this propagation of critical discourses in the internet. Also, we can see this as public officials’ tactic in protecting their “reputation” which is often rightfully subjected to criticisms what with their anti-people policies and attitude towards governance. With the objective of protecting their presently beneficial positions, these public officials mistake valid criticisms with so-called “malicious attacks.”

As early as now, Domogan seems to be prematurely defensive in assuming the role of the helpless sheep in the face of ferocious attackers which can be expected as the mid-year elections approach and as he continues to fall short in addressing key issues in the city such as the waste problem, the privatization of Baguio General Hospital and Baguio Convention Center among others and the cutting of trees in SM Baguio.  Supporting the Cybercrime Law is only logical for a public official continually threatened by a growing unpopularity and criticism that is increasingly launched online. With his aspirations for reelections next year, we can see that this stance towards the controversial law is nothing but driven by his self-interests and not his true concern to the needs and interests of the people.

 

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, Chair

09268105915

As Supreme Court issues TRO: CEGP calls for continuous action towards “online freedom of expression”


Press Statement

October 10, 2012

The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet welcomes the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order on the much-opposed Cybercrime Law which took effect last October 03.

The Guild sees this as the triumph of the collective action of the different groups of people who registered their protests on the Cybercrime Law. The law instantly became notorious primarily because of the inclusion of Libel under the Punishable Acts section of the law. The Guild commends the Supreme Court for heeding the call of the people which on its part, has not failed to show its oppositional stance in regard to the issue. However, the Guild is prompt in its reminder that the people must not be complacent after this initial triumph. The battle against the repression of “online freedom of expression” is only beginning and we call on the people to continuously act together towards amending the questionable inclusions in the law, specifically the Libel provision, if not the outright junking of the law. As the effectiveness of the TRO is only for 120 days, the time is now to organize a plan of action that will be geared towards amending or junking the Cybercrime Law. Scattered oppositions led by various groups can be harmonized into one in order to achieve a more striking formation that will echo the interest of the people and can bring a stronger message to the Aquino regime and its cohorts. As evinced by the SC issuance of TRO, the collective action of the people truly brings forth positive outcomes. This should be the lesson to be put in mind as we continue the battle for freedom of expression not only in the internet among our other constitutional rights.

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, Chair

09268105915

As filing of candidacy closes: Campus Press raises local issues that need to be addressed


Press Statement

October 05, 2012

 

As the filing of certificates of candidacy comes to a close today, CEGP Baguio-Benguet joins everyone in looking forward to next year’s elections.

Instead of hinting at possible picks for next year’s local race, the Guild maintains that next year’s elections shall be an opportune time to raise the issues faced by the people of Baguio City and the Cordillera region in general. While the usual political gimmickry can be expected, the Guild enjoins the people to pause and reflect on the issues hounding the region and what next year’s elections role will be in addressing these issues.

At the beginning of the year, the campaign against SM Baguio’s plan to earthball more than a hundred trees to give way to a multi-level parking area seared and saw one of the largest mass mobilizations in the city for decades. This campaign initially took a mainly environmental package before it was broadened to include other issues like the wiping away of small businesses Governor Pack Road, accountability of the City government and the corporate greed of SM Corporation in the city where it apparently brings more harms than benefits. This issue kindled the participation of the citizenry in issues within the community. The formation of organizations and its corresponding results attested to the merits of collective action in acting towards the issues affecting every one.

In the latter half of the year, several issues of privatization plagued the City. From the Baguio General Hospital to the Athletic Bowl and the Baguio Convention Center, the prioritization of profit over public welfare was made evident. The Guild sees these proposals as all comprised in the Private-Partnership Program of the Aquino administration which aims to reduce spending on public services by encouraging private entities to share in the funding of services the whose provision is the government’s duty. With the advent of private entities in rendering these services, the gaining of profit became a key part of the equation. The predilection of the national budget towards debt and military spending proves costly to the basic social services which should be foremost in service of the constituency. If these privatizations are finalized, one can only anticipate soaring medical bills at the BGH and unreasonable fees to be paid before using the Convention Center and the Athletic Bowl.

Lest we all forget, before all the tumult raised by the SM controversy, there was the unresolved waste management issue that led to the fatal trash slide last year. Up to now, the City government continues to expend millions for the impractical transfer of the city’s waste to neighboring provinces.

As we all look forward to the mid-year elections next year, we must bear in mind these concerns of the City. As people in Baguio, whether as its native residents, eventual migrants or provisional residents, we must look for candidates who will put at the fore of its agenda these issues that matter most to Baguio citizens. Still, this should not keep us from acting on our own ways in order to arrest the problems besetting the city. After all, citizen involvement must not be limited to the electoral realm. The essence of democracy can only be lived by citizens who participate in identifying the issues that needs to be addressed and in actually resolving these concerns. Too much reliance on the bureaucracy does not usually lead to results beneficial to all.

 

For reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915

Chair

 

With the approval of Cybercrime Law: Libel, now “redundantly excessive” in the Philippines


Statement

Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) asserted that the criminal sanction for libel in the country is “excessive.” Libel being a criminal case in the Philippines is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in which the country is a signatory.

While the campaign to decriminalize (diminish from being a criminal to a civil case) libel in the country continues, CEGP Baguio-Benguet sees the approval of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Law as a backward step in the campaign to decriminalize libel. With the inclusion of online libel in the punishable acts under the content-related offenses, the limit to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information already caused by the criminal libel can now take effect in the internet as well. To put it satirically, it seems like libel has become “redundantly excessive” in the Philippines.

In the past, criminal libel cases were filed against journalists, mostly from the community or alternative press, who expose the anomalies of and criticize influential people.  For instance, Alexander Adonis of Bombo Radyo Davao was accused of committing criminal libel by then Congressman and eventual House Speaker Prospero Nograles and convicted after failing to defend himself in court due to financial concerns. This came about after Adonis reported of an incident where the Congressman was caught with a mistress in a Manila Hotel.

At present, a member of the Guild, the former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is facing a libel case in the Regional Trial Court. The case ensued from a section of a lampoon article criticizing acts of powerplay in the university.

With the approval of the Cybercrime Law, the Guild is wary of it posing a limitation to the freedom of expression and free flow of discourse in the internet. Undeniably, the online medium has proven to be one of the more efficient ways of disseminating information and participating in the discourses in the society especially among the youth. The possible implementation of the Cybercrime Law can only curb the potentials of the online medium for sharing information and shaping public opinion. With numerous campus publications setting up online version of their newspapers, any content that can be deemed “libelous” by authorities can lead to undue penalties.

In the end, CEGP Baguio-Benguet perceives the approval of the Cybercrime Law to be another manifestation of the Aquino regime’s stifling of the rights of its people.  With its continued blundering in addressing the issues confronting the basic people such as access to basic social services, employment, land distribution among others and the resulting outcry from more and more of its constituents, the Aquino regime seeks to systematically repress their expression of dissent through various means. The Cybercrime Law is clearly one of these tactics. To this, the Guild sees nothing more apt a response than continuing dissent. Silence cannot be condoned when it is the rights of the people that are at stake.

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