January 15, 2013
Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Filipino-Americans Lend Voices, Urge More Support for Continued Opposition to Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act, aka “E-Martial Law”
Filipino-Americans are lending their voices to the continuing opposition to what many are calling “E-Martial Law”, or the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act, which was first proposed by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III last October. Today, protests resumed in the Philippines as the Supreme Court (SC) hearings over to the constitutionality of the Act began.
After being met with massive protests- both online and offline- the Supreme Court was forced to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Act’s implementation until February 6, 2013.
Incidentally, today’s SC hearing began as the many internet freedom activists around the world mourn and pay tribute to Aaron Swartz, the young American computer programmer who dedicated his life’s work to the cause of freedom of information on the internet.
“The Cybercrime Prevention Act is a tool of the reactionary Philippine state to curb public protest against its anti-people policies. It essentially uses the tenets of the repressive Martial Law era, just now it’s applied online,” said Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA. “People can be fined, jailed, and targeted with state violence for simply liking a post on Facebook that critiques the government.”
Critics of the Act denounce its supposedly good intentions to combat crime on the Internet and instead see it as a repressive mechanism to criminalize Internet users. GABRIELA, an alliance of progressive women’s organizations, insists that the cyber sex provision of RA10175 will neither punish patrons who exploit Filipino sex workers, nor work to solve deep-rooted economic problems in the country that forces the latter to sell their bodies for a living. It will only continue to criminalize sex workers from a moral standpoint, a majority of whom are women and LGBT.
Ellorin emphasizes how the fight for freedom of speech and opinion on the internet in the Philippines is connected to struggles around the world. “At this day and age, during this global financial crisis, oppressed and working people around the world have a relatively easier way to share each other’s struggles and build solidarity on the web. By shutting down this connection, however, people’s protest will not be silenced. It will only be further aggravated and grow fiercer as it reaches the millions of internet users worldwide!”
BAYAN USA urges all people who utilize the internet as a means of expression, who voice their political opinion freely, and understand that having these internet freedoms is not a crime to register their opposition to the Cybercrime Prevention Act and take a stand by signing this petition initiated by the Kabataan (Youth) Partylist in the Philippines: http://www.change.org/
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth. As the first and largest international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist and progressive Filipinos in the U.S.