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President Aquino says government has no intentions of curtailing freedom of speech

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday that his administration is not after curtailing free speech adding that the state has an obligation to go after those who defame and infringe on the rights of others. In an interview during his visit in San Fernando, Pampanga, the President said he signed into law Republic Act No. 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 despite its controversial provisions on libel believing that those who committed libel must be prosecuted regardless of the media they use.

Like newspaper reporters, radio broadcasters, people using the new media must be held accountable for libelous statements they make, the chief executive 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.

Also, he explained that 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, content-related offenses like child pornography, unsolicited commercial and many others.

At the same time, 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 state wouldn’t be accused of abuses while implementing the new law, he added.

The President also called on the people opposing the implementation of the law to go to Congress and push for amendments, assuring them that he’s ready to sign an amended version if he thinks it’s in line with the Palace’s position.

It was reported early this week that hackers attacked several government sites, particularly on Wednesday, the first day the Cybercrime Prevention Act took effect.

Several groups had questioned or opposed the new law, saying that particular provisions on online libel may threaten the public’s right to freedom of speech.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office released a statement on Thursday saying government websites are safe from attacks in the midst of threats from computer hackers.

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)

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