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MANILA, Philippines -- Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Friday defended the widely opposed Cybercrime Prevention Act, calling it a “good law” and urging people to give it a chance to be implemented before shooting it down.
At the same time, Belmonte took potshots at lawmakers who helped craft or voted for the measure but who now want it amended, saying their change of heart appeared prompted by their candidacies in next year’s elections.
“Tumatakbo ‘yang mga ‘yan, iba ang pananaw nyan ‘pag binabatikos sa (They’re running for office, so their positions change when criticized by) media,” he said.
Instead of amending the law, Belmonte said the public should instead wait and see how the law will be implemented once the implementing rules and
regulations are in place.
“It just took effect two days ago three days ago and everything is just speculation,” he said.
However, several quarters, including legal experts and even government officials, have pointed out that the IRR would not be enough to cure the perceived defects in the law because of the dictum that “water cannot rise above its source.”
Among the most criticized sections of the law are the inclusion of libel among the punishable crimes and a provision that allows the justice secretary to shut down websites and deny access to data on the basis of prima facie evidence that a crime has been committed.
Belmonte also chided the law’s authors who, he said, “should have been awake when the bill was being discussed so they know what’s taking place, and they should have foreseen it.”
But at the same time, he said the libel provision was “nothing new” and was
put in the law to make it applicable to what is happening on the Internet.
His observation did not tally with the accounts of several congressmen who said the libel provision was not in the House version of the law.
Acknowledging that the law is not perfect, Belmonte said: “If there is really danger of stifling free speech and so forth, then let’s look at it and put the appropriate safeguards, but let’s give it a chance first.”