MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III said that his administration is not after curtailing free speech, stressing that the government has an obligation to go after people who defame others.
In an interview during his visit last Oct. 5 in San Fernando, Pampanga, the President said he signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 despite its controversial provisions on libel because he believes that those who commit libel must be prosecuted regardless of the kind of media they use.
Like newspaper reporters, radio broadcasters, people using the new media like Facebook and Tweeter must be held accountable for libelous statements they make, the President said.
Everybody’s freedom of speech stops when it affects the rights of others, he said.
“‘Yung freedom of speech mo hindi kasama doon ‘yung magsisigaw ka ng sunog sa loob ng sinehan. Ang rights ay parating bounded when it impinges on the rights of others,” he said.
He said he signed the law because there is an urgent need to address cybercrimes in the country, particularly identity fraud, computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud, contentrelated offenses like child pornography and unsolicited commercials.
At the same time, however, the President said he supports any move to amend the cybercrime prevention law if some people find its penalties too harsh. Its procedures could also be ironed out so that the government wouldn’t be accused of abuses while implementing the new law, he also said.
The President called on the people opposing the implementation of the law to go to Congress and push for amendments, assuring them that he would sign an amended version if it’s in line with the Palace’s position.