As the Cybercrime Prevention Act came to force today, Migrante Sectoral Partylist said that the law will have an adverse effect on the freedom of speech and expression and access to information of 15 million overseas Filipinos.
According to Connie Bragas-Regalado, President of Migrante Sectoral Partylist, social media is a powerful and effective medium that is being utilized by overseas Filipinos, especially in information-gathering and awareness-raising of current events, national affairs and the plight and conditions of Filipinos abroad.
“Social media, through social networking sites, helps greatly in ‘connecting’ Filipinos abroad to the homeland and to other Filipino communities around the world because it is ‘real-time’ and accessible to them. Imposing e-martial law is tantamount to the curtailment of the access of information of overseas Filipinos. ”
“More importantly, social media is also instrumental in aiding overseas Filipinos, especially migrant workers in distress, in bringing their plight and message to the public’s and the government’s attention,” Bragas-Regalado said.
She cited as an instance the case of OFW Agnes Tenorio from Hong Kong who was able to record the verbal abuse she endured from Labor Attache Romulo Salud in 2010. Tenorio disseminated the conversation through the Internet, causing a public uproar which led to Salud’s eventual recall.
“In Tenorio’s case, had it not been for social media, her complaint would have gone unnoticed. But because of social media, she was able to assert her rights and bring to the public’s attention the abuse and negligence of a public official. Now, with the Cybercrime Law, Tenorio, the victim, can be easily charged with libel,” Bragas-Regalado said.
She added that social media is also a venue for protest of overseas Filipinos scattered around the world in the form of online-petition campaigns, blog actions and through the posting of protest contents in social networking sites. “Because of this new law, peaceful and democratic online protests of overseas Filipinos can be shut down and repressed. This is curtailment of the freedom of speech and expression of overseas Filipinos.”
Bragas-Regalado called on overseas Filipinos to be vigilant and to continue asserting their rights. “We join other sectors in society in protesting this draconian and repressive law and in calling for its repeal.” ###