Blackstone’s Ratio: The Repeal of RA 10175
By N Mark Castro
Jurist William Blackstone once posited 1760s that:
Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.
“In light of the foregoing criticisms, complaints, and fears wrought by the signing of RA 10175, and after careful and legal deliberations, I, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino of the Republic of the Philippines, with the powers vested upon me, do hereby legally and categorically revoke RA 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Law.
We will initiate the proceedings before the Supreme Court, we will engage both the House and the Senate to create and submit a new law, preferably one which is clearer and devoid of the contentious online libel. We will leave to the civil courts grievances of parties seeking redress. And in one of our more ambitious campaigns, we will decriminalize libel as there are enough civil law provisions that can manage such.
But let’s focus on the CyberCrime Law for the time being.
We are of the opinion that, indeed, there are still many loopholes and gray areas that can deter our progress using technology; there are potential threats that, indeed, will impact our society in general and our youths in particular: Hacking is still a major issue, security of our technological infrastructure is still susceptible to attacks, and online child pornography is still an important cause that we need to address, among the many that we will vigorously study. And we will engage the public on this. We will argue, we will debate, we will decide.
But online libel, the primary concern of many, will not be included.
I have seen and heard the arguments raised before me and, despite my desire to temper technology with laws that can protect the uninitiated, I believe that my personal experience and journey far outweigh the legal options.
It had been my father’s vocal opinion against the Marcos Administration that deprived him of his family — more than his political ambitions. It had been his voice of protest that they tried to stifle — more than his political ambitions. My father used all available platforms at the time: print, radio, TV. Our youths of today have the privilege of the Internet my father never had, and the speed by which information can be shared globally. This is the same platform used during the Arab Spring, allowing for freedom to be achieved much faster than it would have normally been.
When my mother was encouraged by the public to run for office, her voice, too, was stifled by the Marcos Administration. Whether it was through the massive cheating at the time or the legal provisions at their disposal, the Marcos Administration used everything to silence that voice.
But freedom prevailed and our voices were heard and now, I’m telling you categorically, your voices have been heard. As such, I am repealing RA 10175 and sending it back to the House and the Senate for amendment, revisions, or restructuring, with a clear note that if they so wish me to sign a Cybercrime Law, it would not include online libel.
All of our presidents have had their own unique journey towards their respective freedoms and leadership but none, I suppose, carry the weight of history of both parents that have been prosecuted, persecuted, and even assassinated as they sought to express their voices freely and legally. It is by this measure — together with the nationwide sentiment — that I, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, willfully, legally, and categorically repeal RA 10175.
So Help Me God.”
Then I woke up … and learned that the president is too busy playing his Wii.