Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gold-Skinned Creatures in Twilight


One day while darkness crept slowly into the night, I was in a hide-and-seek game when suddenly, as I looked into the area full of banana trees, while hiding from my seeker, I noticed a little distortion in the trunks of the banana trees, and as I stared lengthily towards the woods, I noticed that a group of persons were looking at me. Some were standing while a couple was sitting in a kneeling position. They were all staring at me. They looked unusual that they had skin gleaming like bronze and their body sizes were relatively small like children's body and yet their faces looked old. I should have been scared and immediately run away but they seem to have put me in a trance that fear was absent in me at that moment. I remember it now so vividly, as I try to recollect these past events. I could even describe to you how one is put in a trance. As I looked at them, my head felt a gentle swelling, painless and smooth, as if the rest of me disappeared, except my head and my feet did not feel the ground. Again, my surroundings became yellow and everything seemed to glow despite the lateness of the day. My sight became sharper and I could hear my heart pounding and my body seemed ethereal like I was a spirit floating above ground. The one person sitting kept on signaling to me that I should approached them, because perhaps of the trance that I was put in, I headed towards the woods slowly, into the thick groupings of banana trees. As I pierced through the woods, the surroundings became brighter and ahead of me was a pathway in the forest, and I could see many of them at each side of the pathway, hanging from trees and huge stones. They all held palm leaves in their hands and shook it that collectively they made a swooshing sound that is gentle to the ear. Nobody spoke to me and nobody touched me. After a few meters of going forward, I stopped abruptly without deciding on my own, and turned back and into the games that I was playing with the other kids. It was a transition so smooth that I could say that time stood still and the event suddenly disappeared from my mind, never able to tell it to any of my friends or to my mother about the particular strange occurrence. It was only later on in life, that the memory kept coming back every time I walked into some woods with the same landscape and contour, feeling déjà vu every time, and vividly recalling details of such event. It must have been a dream. It must have been not. But dreams I could really recall to be dreams no matter how vivid they were and the forest incident was never a dream. In fact I had a dream once, about three years ago that was so vivid and yet I fully recognized it as merely a dream, not a memory of past events. In that particular dream, there was also a pond. I found myself in the middle of a wasteland, with red cracking clay all over, up to where my sight could reach. And then there was the pond that was unusually situated near a sloping hill and the air was yellowish and the sky a bit red, bleeding into many hues and concentration of red. There were no trees or a single bush in the arid ground except for a leafless tree protruding at one side of the shore of the pond and the wind was very still and motionless and the only sound I heard was the poundings of my heart. If you could perhaps imagine Mars and its landscape, that was how the dream looked and felt like.

The pond was of fair size in a shape that is almost perfectly circle. It was a small pond indeed with a radius not more than ten meters. I climbed the barren tree and sat there looking into the water, undecided about my next move. I could see the water inviting me to jump, almost feeling the coolness that it harbored; the dewy color of the water was refreshing to the sight. There was some life in the pond that I felt it could talk and communicate as if it was a creature on its own, with a head and a torso, and the tentacles of an ancient mollusk. I stood up from one of the tree's branches and dived into the water. The splashing sound it made as I entered the water reverberated throughout the heavy air that I could hear it rumbling even while I was deep into the water. Such sound made me reckoned that the pond was deep, so deep in fact that I kept going further and further into the water and I could not see ground. As I went deeper, there was exaltation inside me, a sudden gush of joy that became more and more prevalent as I dived deeper and deeper. But even as I go further into the water, I could find no end, as if it was a bottomless pit. I was insisting to lunge deeper when suddenly I felt a hand grabbed my body and pulled me towards the surface. When I reached the surface of the water I realized that I could not swim that the man who grabbed me had to help me reach the shore. There were actually two men that helped me get out of the water, as I lay there gasping in the banks. I examined the two men and observed them carefully and to my amazement, they both looked like me. They were my twins if only in that particular dream.

I sat there at the pond's shore while the two men stayed in the water, so expert in their swimming prowess that you could not tell from the surface if they are really moving their hands and feet to wade above the waters. That was the time that I saw this vision of an old person who looked like an old woman in a very long white dress. She looked so old that I had initially thought of her to be a ghost but despite such apprehensions, I could not move and continued to stare at the apparition. She approached me slowly as she floated through the wind, her feet entirely above the ground. As much as I thought that she was approaching me, as much farther she had become. It was completely a distortion of physics and of sight. She moved away from me, hovering towards the top of the nearby hill. A smile was pasted on her crinkled face that somehow I felt reassured that she meant no harm. She pointed towards the tree and through my mind, she instructed me to dive once more into the water. And so I recreated my previous dive and the sudden gush of happy emotion was there again as well as the temptation to go deeper and deeper. To seek the ultimate depth, the bottomless pit. The water offered such narcotic feeling that the two men had to grab me and pull me up before I go so much deeper and became lost into such very fearful depth. Every time I reach the shore, I dived again and then dived again until I was able to swim on my own, having gained the patience not to go deeper into the water.

And the dream went into a blur. The last recoverable image I have got of that dream was the old woman dancing atop the hill, while floating, and swaying her arms sideways and roundabout, as if ordering the wind and all the elements to move, and the air moved. In fact the entire atmosphere was in a whirl.

If dreams could be so vivid, nothing could top that particular dream where even when years had already passed, I could still remember the details, and the minutest of emotions that I felt. It was one of those dreams that once I woke up, I had the feeling that I had been transported from one place towards another instead of the general feeling of waking up.

Of dreams and of past memories therefore I have a healthy recognition and have reasonable distinction.

It was also in my Hadja Saniya's front yard that I also had another experience of trance. Again, we were playing a catch-me-if-you-can as twilight was already heavy into the night that it was only the full moon in the sky that gave us sufficient illumination. When the moon was full, us children would play into the night and it was sort of a ritual for us every time the moon appeared at its fullest. Before night came, the older children would inform all of us that the moon would appear in the night so we had to prepare for the night games. They say the night was full of monsters and ghosts but when the moon was full, even the olds would be in the yards to enjoy the mystic of a moonlit night.

The extra playing time we've got made us giddy and a little bit livelier. Every one seemed to laugh and snitched, until we were all laughing incessantly as we go running in a circle continuously and I started to hear laughing voices not of my friends but of some other persons'—old persons'. I stopped moving while the others kept running in circles, and the laughing voices faded as if I became suddenly deaf. And I stood there petrified and my body moved independently of my will until I was positioned apart from my playmates and gazed towards a guava tree whose leaves was crumbled due to the coolness of the night. The night became a little bit darker and my friends disappeared into a blur, as if I was the only person on earth that night. There was a red flickering light in the middle of the guava tree. The spark of light flickered so slowly as if someone was blowing it again and again. I squinted my eyes and I saw a figure of a huge man with the head of a horse, and the flickering light was at the end of what looked like a huge cigar. I could see figures in shadow because the tree was just about twenty meters away from where I was standing. The figure then changed into the figure of an elephant. After a few moments, I saw the shaped of a whale, then a horse head again, then of a monkey. The shape kept on changing and changing. The occurrence took about nearly an hour but when it ended my friends was still running in circles. I felt a sudden loneliness that I started to cry for no reason at all. I saw my mother coming after me and asked what was wrong with me. The other kids said that we were just playing. My crying caused the disruption of our over extended play into the night. Somehow, I could not remember telling my mother or anyone about the strange figures I have seen. Funnier still, when the day after came, nobody mentioned to me that I acted queerly by just standing there and crying so suddenly. Just like those other strange memories, I always failed to tell anyone for reason that is perhaps beyond careful remembrance. It may be perhaps the feeling I had then, even up to now, that no one would believe some queer stories anyway that it was not worth telling in the first place. Such memories faded in my head as the years went by, to recur as deja vu in later years.

All these experiences had one major tread that are similar to all and that is the feeling of entering into another dimension, penetrating an invisible wall that divides this world from some other parallel existence. I have a great feeling that those events were planned by some supernatural beings, as a way of introducing their presence here on our material world, to declare that they are here.

(Excerpts from "A Prophet's Life", a semi-autobiography of mine)
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Pnoy Signs Landmark Framework Agreement with MILF


The government of President Noynoy Aquino ends today what is the last of the insurgencies that the country have suffered through the years by signing a preliminary pact termed as the framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In the words of President Aquino, the signing of this peace agreement connotes triumph over decades old conflict that had stymied peace and development in Mindanao, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

“We now all share the triumph of this agreement”, President Aquino said in the Philippine Daily Inquirer after the deal was signed 3 o’ clock in the afternoon this day.

In representation of the MILF, MILF Chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim expressed satisfaction and gratitude. In his own words: “Today, I extend the hand of friendship to the Filipino people… today we are here to put an end to the adversarial relationship between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine nation. Today it humbles me to say before you, we stayed our course, perseverance has prevailed.”

In 1989, the government had instituted Republic Act No. 6734 otherwise known as the ARMM Organic Act to settle differences with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and in 2007, the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo moved to repeal the Anti-Subversion Law and allowed a mellowing of conflict with the Communist party of the Philippines (CPP) specially with its armed-sector the National People’s Army.

But with the signing of the framework agreement, certain issues have been brought out into the open, especially on the powers given the new entity which is simply called “Bangsamoro” and the so-called “ministerial” form of its governance.

Some legal experts such as Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago had pointed out how these new agreements could be in violation of the provision of our Constitution.

Thereon, these arising issues need to be settled and ironed out in order for the agreement to be truly accomplished and ‘triumphant’.





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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Of Absolute Certainty

Of Absolute Certainty

I'VE LEARNED SOMETHING THESE DAYS; or rather I have suddenly awaken to the realization that somehow becomes an elevating idea for me, of hope and redemption, of salvation and deliverance.

Actually, it would somehow appears like learning from that old adage “You don’t know what you've got until it’s gone” or “You can’t always have what you wanted”. But actually it’s far from that—- it’s something beside the point.
Lately, I had a snglguy predicament, that is spending hours and hours at home without cable television, meaning I am now without the glossy news of CNN and subtle in information that can be sourced from BBC and National Geographic, the amazing realities inside Discovery Channel, the boys of summer of Major League Baseball coming in live from America, the guffaws that can be had from the crazy antics of Seinfeld’s crazy bunch of cast, and so much more; much more than the ongoing National Football League season, the upcoming Ryder Cup tournament, the sometimes sharp reporting in Channel Asia and the special presentations shown on HBO and Cinemax.

One day about a week ago, our cable connection was cut-off and I was a little taken out of sort. Not that I never saw it coming but it is just that I never thought my wife was serious enough about it when she kept on muttering to me in a fairly exasperated tone that we have to cut house expenses at this time (the kids tuition fees are becoming such a weighty expense for us) and our cable subscription had to go. I never believed that somehow because we had been “cabled” for almost a decade and life without 40 channels on TV is just unimaginable. But she did that, going to the cable TV office without me knowing it and requested that our subscription be ended.

I somehow have this feeling that it is just a frank put on me by my wife, to catch me off-guard and see how I react funny to it, like they often do in shows like Candid Camera or Wow Mali!. Or maybe she just wanted to change Cable Company, the one with more channels on it like the Disney Channel for the kids and Jack TV and that one with Jay Leno and David Letterman on its lineup. I hope my presumptions are true.

But now, it is just not happening. You’d wonder why I am not applying for a re-connection or for a new subscription with the other cable company myself. Well, I have a strong inclination to do that and I could pay that with my own personal fund but there is a problem to that idea because right now every billing here still remains in my late father-in-law’s name and the PLDT is still in my wife’s maiden name and we all know that cable companies always require such kind of document or else they won’t agree to any application. We are actually living in my in-law’s house right now for my mother-in-law needs company while she is already too old and weak and also for practical reasons.

I guess I've got to make a lot of convincing to do in the next coming days but it looks like she is hell-bent on cutting our family expenses. That is just how it is; some family decisions really need the concurrence of both spouses. I hope we can agree on this for just another time.

So how does this idea of “absolute certainty” come into the picture? Well, this present predicament I have reminds me of some instance or occurrence that I had experienced so many years ago, when I was still so young and in my college years. Our house then had no cable connection since at that time cable subscription was not yet as widespread or as popular here in our town; it was still something more of a foreign idea, unlike now where every home seems to have one. And then a neighborhood friend had just gotten a cable subscription and he was so gleeful about it that he had invited us for some merriment while watching their brand new home entertainment. I remember how I was so fascinated at that time about discovering something that gives you so much fun and pleasure, how in the convenience of your home, one could get to information and entertaining shows that comes from all over the world, as far as America, Europe and neighboring Asian countries. We watched those very exciting sporting tournaments like Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association live on television and the movies on it were just awesome that it goes on for 24 hours. I was fascinated to no end that I couldn't sleep thinking how pleasurable for one to have cable subscription at that time, when a lot of people still don’t have it, including me.

Since then, for each time had I passed by our friend’s house, I would peak for a while and see what’s on their TV screen and it would just have a minute sneak on it for it is just not ideal to stand in front of their house for more than a minute of two, it was just improper and odd to me. Our friend couldn't invite us over as often to watch some sports show for clearly, it impedes the privacy of their home, which is of course all of us know as primordial in every home. So I just keep on stealing a peak every now and then and took some minute pleasure from it.

Yet, whenever I passed by my friend’s house, I have always thought that one day, our family might get that luscious cable connection and the delicious pleasure one gets from it. Maybe my mother would agree to it. But our family was not as uppity then that I was more inclined to believe that she would certainly frown at the idea because for one, it would merely add up to the house expenses when at that time, the four of us siblings were still in college, me at law school, my sister on a midwifery institution and my other two brothers pursuing an engineering course and electronics respectively.

But that desire to have cable subscription at our home was so overpowering that I had put it into mind that maybe one day, I’d be able to get it myself; I can perhaps get myself a good job after graduating from law school, and be able to afford that soon after. I am certain I’d be able to afford that myself. I had in fact put it into mind that I've got to make good in my studies so that I won’t stay longer in law school than necessary and be able to work as soon as possible. Every time I passed by our friend’s house, I would feel enormous envy sometimes and with that goes frustrations and other sort of negative feelings. But I decided that I can’t go on envying for a longer time and I just have to control this notion immediately by keeping in mind that getting a cable connection could be an “absolute certainty” in the future. If not now, then some other time in the future. Maybe next year; or maybe in the next two years; I must not fret and complain for nothing should happen to me if I have that sort of mindset. I have decided then that envy is just a frame of mind and I could evade feeling such if only I could control that mindset and direct it towards something positive, to one that is full of hope and aspiration. Envy is such a negative emotion that I felt that if I let it overcome me, and continually control my person, I would merely feel bad about it and would merely be at the losing end.

So I adopted this mindset, one that makes me believe that if I only set my mind into it, that something I’d like to get would come with “absolute certainty”. Since then, whenever I passed by my friend’s house, I would feel gleeful instead of gloomy, for their cable television would remind me that someday, I’d be able to have such and it’s that hope that keeps me alive every time, making me exert more in everything I do, making me feel happy instead of gloomy, while imagining how when that day comes, I’d be treating myself to endless sports shows and global news from CNN and amazing information from Discovery Channel. I knew then that day would come, and convinced myself to believe in that idea, and that realization alone makes me feel rather blessed than wanting, gleeful rather than gloomy, worthy rather than envious.

The good thing about this story is that I didn't have to wait until I graduate from law school and get myself employed to get that cable subscription. One night, I cajoled my father and talked him sweetly into getting a cable subscription, explaining to him in bated breath how he can get so much pleasure from watching NBA games right on our living room (we sometimes have to dine outside to watch live NBA shows) and a lot more marvelous shows from all over the world. Without so much remonstration, he became agreeable to it and was in fact blissful about it; I was able to tell that by the way he acted that day when we had the cable guys connect our TV to the whole wide world. He was smiling throughout the day and moved all over the house like a child that had got himself/herself an enjoyable brand new toy (when ordinarily my father was just like me, very serious and calm).

Of course, I wouldn't have to tell you now how blissful I was that day. You just have to imagine it.


(This is an old post from 2006)



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Monday, October 08, 2012

Bangsamoro Offers New Hope for Lasting Peace in Mindanao

Often, peace is the most difficult to attain in this world, especially involving insurgencies and rebellions within a sovereign territory, that somehow, no matter at what cost and how high the stakes are, peace needs to be gained by such means.

This is the deal agreed and sealed today between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, where a new autonomous governmental entity would be created, in place of the much-maligned Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which according to President Noynoy Aquino was “a failed experiment”.

PNoy have made assurances that the formation of the new autonomous political entity, known simply as Bangsamoro, would follow constitutional process, contrary to what had happened to the initial efforts made with the MILF, where overwhelming opposition had laid the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which would have instituted the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) utterly futile and ineffectual. The MOA-ADwas deemed by many to have been made in violation of the provisions of our Constitution especially on territory and sovereignty where the MOA-AD would have empowered the BJE to virtually institute separate functionalities of governance such as in justice and finance, very delicate powers that only the national government should wield ultimate dictation and control.

Moreover, the BJE would have expanded to areas not covered by ARMM and for this, massive protestation have stormed over its validity in areas like Zamboanga City and General Santos City.

The new deal is said to be still in framework stage, a beginning an entire process towards full implementation, a roadmap to final peace in Mindanao, aiming to end decades-long conflict there, one that had claimed tens of thousands of lives and affected millions of Mindanoans, stagnating progress and development there.

As of now, there are still no noises heard about the new deal but it would be expected that in the days to come, it would be highly scrutinized and criticized, especially by personalities and agencies that have sturdily remonstrated against the MOA-AD implementation some years ago.

Counter-moves would be sure to inure as the form of government to established in the new political entity would be not in consonance with the national system, where a "ministerial" form of government would be established, similar to a parliamentary system where representatives are elected first by the people within the area of constituency, and then the leaders be elected by such representatives, this according to presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles.
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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Mumford & Sons New Album : Mumfordmania! Arrives with Babel

Mumford & Sons New Album : Mumfordmania! Arrives with Babel


Folk rock is not British creation but it is huge in Great Britain, had a strong folk scene there for decades in fact, where for example folk legend Bob Dylan had gained cultic following there in the years that he became a worldwide star and U.S. super-rocker.

And maybe one could never think that England and folk rock could go together except that popular 70’s/80’s band America is a mixed English-American folk rock band.

And we all know that folk rock was once known to have dissipated and melted down except that Tracy Chapman had tried to resuscitate it in the 90’s.

And these days, folk rock is finally making a huge comeback and guess who’s spearheading it? It’s none other than Mumford & Sons, the indie folk rockers from England who had stormed the music scene in America in the past couple of years with their phenomenal eponymous outing Sigh No More.

Together with another upstart indie folk rock band from Seattle Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons steadily introduced (or-re-introduced to say more correctly) into the psyche of American listeners the  beauty and calmness of string instruments such as banjo and the stinging affectivity of strumming guitars and tom-toms.

And to prove how big Mumford & Sons had become, and indie folk for that matter, the band’s latest album Babel debuted at #1 and instantly made record sales, the biggest so far for this year, with 340,000 debut sales, half-a-million copies in the week ending September 30.

It’s an outstanding feat considering that Babel sold more copies than the next 7 albums placing in Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, a list that includes big names such as Green Day and No Doubt.

And Paul Grein of Chart Watch says Mumfordmania! Alluding to another British band before that had similarly surprised the charts with spurting debut sales for album releases.

Let us see how Babel would perform in terms of sales in the next few weeks and perhaps let us read some reviews and preview its song roster. We’d be able to prove by that time if indeed, Mumfordmania! has finally ariive in today’s music scene.

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Decriminalizing Libel: An Antidote to the Chilling Effect on Press Freedom

Decriminalizing Libel: An Antidote to the Chilling Effect on Press Freedom


While Senator Edgardo Angara had yesterday made suggestion that the entire regime of libel laws should be abolished, thereupon decriminalizing libel, Senator Chiz Escudero had swiftly filed an amendatory bill that would repeal the libel clause in R.A. 10175, otherwise known as the Philippine Cybercrime Law.

In July of 2010, Senator Escudero had actually filed a bill aiming to decriminalize libel, but of course it did not take flight.

"It is submitted that any form of libel is a form of abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of press," the senator said.

"With today's modern technology, the crime of libel does not only prove antiquated but to the contrary even overarching as a state tool to restrain freedom of speech," he added.

So how outmoded libel law is in actuality? 

In March, Business World Vergel Santos had made statement how " libel slows down civilization" in a forum held by media practitioners and advocates that had then been intensifying the call for the abolition of the libel law.

In October of 2011, the United Nations through the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) had declared how the libel laws of the Philippines and the sanctions involved thereat are "excessive" and highly contrary to the provisions to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is a signatory.

In America for example, there is no federal law that criminalizes libel, where only actions for civil damages are allowed; although 17 states there remains to penalize written defamation by criminal punishment.

In most countries in Asia and Europe, such as South Korea, China, Belgium and Austria, specific provisions against the written form of defamation, as in libel, does not exist.

How did "Libel" begun? 

In history, the root of this misconduct is in the act of shouting. The Praetorian Edict circa 130 AD had made the act of cursive public pronouncement, through shouting, to be gravely punishable. The code had declared: "qui, advesus bonos mores convicium cui fecisse cuiusve opera factum esse dicitur, quo adversus bonos mores convicium Weret, in eum iudicium dabo. " That is, shouting words and invectives contrary to public morals shall be punishable.

In modern times, outstanding cases of libel involved a luckless individual named William Prynn, an English writer who had written a book criticizing the Queen of England and was imprisoned in 1637 for life for his own undoing.

In the 1735, a landmark case involved publisher John Peter Zenger who was charged with Seditious Libel for his fervent criticism of William Cosby in the paper New York Weekly Journal, who then the British Governor of New York, when America was still under the hold of colonial rule.

It was ruled in the said case that the defense of truth, when allegations made were proven to be factual, and without any malice, should render the defendant without guilt. In previous libel cases heard in America, libel charges had prospered whether the malefaction involved were of truth or of falsity.

The Zenger case thereon had laid the standard for succeeding decisions on libel cases and had virtually shaped the form of modern libel laws.

The main problem with the libel laws in the Philippines is that they become such a great impediment to freedom of expression as it becomes punishable by a grave penalty of prision correccional which involves imprisonment of up to six years, merely for having written defamatory words.

Oral pronouncements could actually become libelous even if not written or published, in so long as it was communicated to third persons, with positive identification.

As the modern world is ensconced upon the daily embrace of media, millions of words are published every day, which raises the probability of libel exponentially that libel suits are undertaken upon spuriously half of the time, without proper basis, ultimately for harassment purposes, thereupon clogging our courts to no end.

Libel had been deemed to have a chilling effect on publishers and writers alike as they continually face the threat of lawsuit for the content they write and publish.

The crime of libel, as inscribed in our Revised penal Code does become too constricting to freedom of speech and of the press and often abused by moneyed and powerful individuals to harass and annoy, thereby stifling one's capability for opinion and expression of views. It would the right time for our lawmakers to entirely repeal libel in our penal laws.

In lieu, defamation should be upgraded and be formed in such a way that any slanderous comment, whether orally pronounced or made in written form, should altogether be punishable, for indeed, such slanderous remarks becomes malicious in its form, regardless of how it is communicated or channeled through.

And it becomes even more worthwhile if defamatory acts in general should be categorized into the realms of civil actions, where every act of vicious slander becomes answerable, and the defamer does not becomes altogether scot-free but be obliged to compensate for his or her grave misdeed.

Publishers and writers often produced great amount of written content on a daily basis that the probability of "libelous" remarks is very high, even when made in the course of their duty to express the truth and uncover social misdeeds and even when malicious intent does not pertain.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Philippine Cybercrime Law Impedes Freedom of Speech, Might be Declared Unconstitutional

Philippine Cybercrime Law Impedes Freedom of Speech, Might be Declared Unconstitutional


With online protest over the enactment of RA 10175 reaching a height with anonymous hackers maiming the websites of several major government agencies, several groups have filed before the Supreme Court of the Philippines in order to nullify it and declare it void.

The primary content of the complaints involves the “libel” provision of the Philippine Cybercrime Law, which falls under Section 4 for punishable offenses.

The main attack lies in the impediment of free speech in the Internet as the libel clause is generally vague and unspecific about the acts to be prohibited considering that millions of netizens post and “published” innumerable amount of messages and ideas on a daily basis especially in networking accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as thousands of bloggers and post commenters having their own personal Internet interface accounts.

As the “libel” clause may indeed impede basic freedom as guaranteed by our Constitution, then it may be in direct violation of it and may be declared unconstitutional.

The SC may declare the whole law as void and ineffectual or may just declare portion of it as unconstitutional and the law remains in effectivity for the remainder of its undisputed portions.

The Revised Penal Code defines “libel” as:

Art. 353. Definition of libel. — A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

Furthermore:

Art. 355. Libel means by writings or similar means. — A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.
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Definitely, postings such as in Facebook and Twitter become public enough as this would be read and consumed by great number of readers.

In Daez vs. Court of Appeals (191 SCRA 61), the elements of libel had been laid down. "Thus, the elements of libel are: (a) imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another; (b) publication of the imputation; (c) identity of the person defamed; and, (d) existence of malice."

In the case of Alonzo vs. Court of Appeals (241 SCRA 51) for example, there is considered to be publication when the libelous remark had been communicated to a third person so written publication is not ultimately necessary for the crime of libel to take place.

And so with these provision of our penal laws, it is feared and anticipated that RA 10175 might be abused and utilized for harassments when certain comments and postings online would now be specifically be a source for cause of action in a libel case, when in fact our courts have been mounted with myriads of libel cases already, even portions of these complaints are of not legit causes but merely embarked upon for intent of harassment.

The instance of “online libel” would surely increase these species of actions ten-folds and would merely increase the backlogs of our courts.

These conditions are certainly detrimental to the public and to our legal system. It should be wise for the Supreme Court to nullify the libel clause of the Philippine Cybercrime Law.

(Graphics courtesy of 1M Filipino Netizens Against the Cybercrime Law Facebook Page)

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