Davao journalists alarmed with Anti-Cybercrime Law

Oct. 05, 2012

“This law affects us in the media as news broadcast today is now on live-streaming over the internet and newspapers have an online version” — Rey Fabe, RMN reporter, union president

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Veteran radio reporter and union president Rey Fabe is unafraid of being sued for libel if he speaks against government policies and against erring public officials in his radio reports and program.

But with the recently passed Cybercrime Prevention Act, it is a different story altogether.

“This law affects us in the media as news broadcast today is now on live-streaming over the internet and newspapers have an online version,” said Fabe in an interview with davaotoday.com.

Fabe said “social media helped” in their successful campaign for higher wages at the height of their crippling strike last July.

Of this, freelance journalist Karlos Manlupig said that “In the advent of multinational companies’ mass production of gadgets and other technological devices such as cameras, multimedia content have become abundant while social media sites have become the platform of many individuals outside the mainstream media.”

He argued that the active involvement of “the people as source and publisher of their own news have threatened the state, thus the passage of the Anti-Cybercrime Law.”

Opposition to Anti-Cybercrime law has snowballed, some in the form of graphic or photo-based online “memes.”  Aside from the memes against the cybercrime law, satiric memes recently hit Philippine Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who defended the law.

Among the first to put up graphics opposing the Cybercrime Prevention Act was Atenews, official publication of the Ateneo de Davao University.  The meme said “Stop e-martial law,” “Junk the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.”

In its online version, the Atenews staff said they would defend their publication if taken-down as an effect of the new law.

Atenews photojournalist Janine Abejay told davaotoday.com, that social networking sites belong to the users and they have the right to speak their minds.

“Personally, I think that (the government) is doing this because the election season is here and they do not want the people to know the truth,” Abejay said.

Charydel Malintad, another Atenews photojournalists and a mass communications student, said that before she involved herself with the school publication, she prepared herself to hustle with such issues.  “I am willing to take the risk.  If something happens, I would be proud because I know I have done something right,” she said.

“We would stand for our work.  Besides, as far as we are concerned, we write based on facts,” said Farideh Jadali Sabet, Atenews managing editor.

Atenews staffers said that, should the current administration become repressive and shut down other media outfits, they are willing to live up to what Atenews stood for during martial law — an alternative press that the people can count on to give them the truth.

“We are not limited to what is happening in school.  We must inform the people,” Sabet said.

“If the common people do the news, it is more real, more tangible and closer.  This becomes a fertile situation to organize resistance.  (The Cybercrime Prevention Act) was skillfully crafted to ensure that it will push through,” journalist Manlupig said.  (John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com)

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