Escudero wants to decriminalize online libel

October 2, 2012 9:20 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Oct. 2 – Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero filed on Tuesday a bill seeking to decriminalize online libel by amending Section 4 of Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Escudero announced this to the media after filing his certificate of candidacy for his reelection bid at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) main office in Intramuros, Manila.

”I filed amendatory measure to repeal criminal liability in libel. If a libel against media has criminal liability, it should be civil only and not criminal or only damages and not imprisonment,” Escudero said.

Libel is among the punishable offenses provided for under Section 4 of R.A. 10175.

”This bill repeals Section 4 (c) (4) of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, finding basis on the unequivocal constitutional provision on freedom of speech. It is submitted that any form of libel is a form of 'abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of press,'” Escudero explained in his bill.

Escudero already filed a similar measure (Senate Bill 2162) in July 2010, decriminalizing libel under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.

“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,” the 42-year-old lawmaker from Bicol said.

Escudero believes that a strong media could give great service to the Filipino people in providing an effective mechanism of complete and fearless transparency over the excesses of government in the exercise of its powers and prerogatives.

”Nonetheless, this bill does not negate civil liability in case the elements of libel subsist, which is but in consonance with the provisions of the Civil Code on Human Relations, specifically Articles 19 to 21 thereof,” he added.

Aside from repealing Section 4 of R.A. 10175, Escudero said there are many more things to do in terms of legislating laws that would promote economic development through transparent governance.

”That’s where we can see the true reflection that we want to make it happen in our country as a legislator if we are going to put or not the fund to where it is needed,” he said.

Escudero said he will run as independent but accepted an offer to be one of the common candidates both by the United Nationalists Alliance (UNA) and the ruling Liberal Party coalition.

The campaign period for the May 13, 2013 mid-term election will start in February next year. (PNA)



One Response to “Escudero wants to decriminalize online libel”

  1. Gravy on October 3rd, 2012 3:38 pm

    chiz escudero is a joke. He can’t make up us mind and he doesn’t take things too seriously. It’s so unprofessional of him to appear as a host on talk show and disregard the fact that he is a public servant. NOT A CELEBRITY.