Libel on the Internet under Philippine Law

First, the disclaimer. This is not intended as lawyerly advice. Neither does it refer a specific case or circumstance. Much less can this be considered as an offer to provide legal services or to advocate anything. It’s just one person’s opinion on a matter of increasing interest to bloggers and other denizens of cyberspace: what constitutes internet libel in the context of Philippine laws.

How is libel defined under Philippine laws ? Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code defines libel as “a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead”.

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On Online libel of the CyberCrime law: Writing Well is the Best Defense

There has been a lot of anxious speculation in social media and the blogsphere about the possible chilling effect of the new cybercrime law (officially the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012”, Republic Act No. 10175) on the freedom enjoyed by netizens in cyberspace. All this hand-wringing is premature. A cursory reading of the law will reveal it to be simply an updated version of a hodge-podge of existing laws.

For instance, libel has always been a crime, whether committed online or the old-fashioned, printed way. Thus, it is Article 353 of the Penal Code that defines libel as “a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or nay act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one already dead. “ What the new cybercrime law simply does is make reference to the commission of libel through an electronic medium or Libel 2.0.

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Yes, but is it sexual harassment ?

The case of alleged sexual harassment raised by Cristy Ramos against 2 members of the Philippine national football team, the widely (and wildly) popular Azkals, has brought the issue of sexual harassment into the forefront once more, this time in the area of team sports.

The details of the incident has been widely reported elsewhere, and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that it has led to wide, and sometimes acrimonious, debate online and off among those who would condemn the perceived sexual “offenders” and those who would defend, or at least offer explanations for,  their actions.

First the disclaimer: The Ramos sisters were good friends and our neighbors at the subdivision where we grew up. The Ramoses are family friends, FVR and my dad having gone to college together. However, we drifted apart during our college years, having attended different schools, although I would bump into the recently-departed Jo once in awhile, she being a popular campus figure in U.P. Diliman.  I would also see Cristy’s husband, Freddy Jalasco, socially from time to time although I have not seen him in years.

Image via flickr.com/photos/unwomenasiapacific/. Some rights reserved

There are two particular articles which I found most enlightening, all the more so for being from the point of view of women who are no strangers to the atmosphere and psychology of men’s team sports. One is by Lia Cruz (Sexual Harassment in mens’ locker room should be challenged) and the other by Mika Palileo (What is sexual harassment? On Sofia Cristina and the woman question), both at the AksyonTV website. Their insights are fascinating and cast light on one of the darker aspects of popular sports.

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