Internet users in the Philippines declared September 28 as ‘Black Friday” as form of protest to online libel provisions in the newly-approved Cybercrime Law or RA 10175.Image by NUJP

OFW group based in the Middle East on Friday asked fellow migrant workers around the world to register their strong opposition against Cybercrime Law, saying that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are also ‘likely target of the folly of the said measure.’

“Noting that many OFWs are fond users of various social networking sites, it is not farfetched that some of them will be unfairly or maliciously charged courtesy of Cybercrime Law,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

For instance OFW-activists are using social networking sites as a medium to air their legitimate grievances against the government or any of its agencies and officials, Monterona told Manila Channel.

“OFWs postings in social networking are indeed very critical to the government especially if it pertains to OFWs rights and welfare and relevant issues to the sector,” Monterona citing as an example the proposal of a Manila Congresswoman to increase their OWWA membership premium from US$25 to US$50, which got the ire of the OFWs around the world lambasting and saying harsh words against the proponent.

“Another OFW issue at hand is the 150% Philhealth Premium hike, where our fellow OFWs are actively and vocally criticizing the Aquino govt. and Philhealth board in what we say illegal, unjustified hike on OFWs health premium,” Monterona added.

Monterona added, “May hibo pa ng martial law ang Cybercrime law na eto. Kaya dapat tutulan at hindi na sana pa isina-batas.”

“Let us register our opposition in various and peaceful ways to tell these martial law-admirer legislators that we will defend our constitutional right to freedom of expression. Let us better maximize the social networking sites by calling the junking or scrapping of the Cybercrime law,” urged Monterona.

The Cyberlaw signed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III last month is also meet with protest by netizens and some legislators in the country.

Yesterday Senator Teofisto Guingona III petitioned the Supreme Court to declare null and void the libel penalty provisions in the RA 10175 saying it ‘violated basic constitutional rights and threw the nation back to the dark ages.’

Also Filipino Internet Freedom Alliance (FIFA) #FIFAph — a broad coalition of individuals and organizations seeking to amend/remove the provisions which threaten Internet Freedom in Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 –is scheduled to troop to the Supreme Court on October 2 to file for a temporary restraining order (TRO).

On Wednesday a group of hackers who called themselves as Anonymous Philippines penetrated and defaced several government websites to voice out their objection pertaining to some points on online libel enclosed in the said Cyberlaw.

Government websites hacked were those of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region III, Smokefree Philippines of the Department of Health, Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team, American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (Amcham), and Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis (IDEA). The sites however were restored the following day.

Meanwhile National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in a statement said: “The enactment of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was, to say the least, sneaky and betrays this administration’s commitment to transparency and freedom of expression.”

“The inclusion of libel among the crimes that may be committed with the use of computers poses a threat not only against the media and other communicators but anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet.”

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