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Just Before The Clock Strikes 12

2 Oct

When somebody asks you, “How do you spend your free time?” how would you respond?  In archaic times, the typical answers would be reading books, catching up with friends and the honing of one’s different talents and skills. But the times have changed. And to quote Dr. Leon C. Megginson, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” But personally, I think it’s both – intelligence and resilience – or maybe that’s just because I’m biased.

Nowadays, I think that I can speak for all of us that during our leisure time, we love to indulge ourselves with the amazing gift that man and technology has bestowed upon us –the internet. Needless to say, we would be on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Speaking of this, I was on the internet the other day, mindlessly clicking through things, when I found and read through Republic Act No. 10175. With this law implemented, we could be put in jail by merely posting a status, liking, commenting, sharing, tweeting, re-tweeting and blogging about an individual in social media platforms. Yes, you heard it right.

A year ago, I had a falling out with a friend. To not name names, let’s just call this person A, short for anonymous. So at the height of A’s emotions, A posted a very derogatory status about yours truly: complete with insults and bashing, for all of Facebook to see, like, comment and share. Imagine if this incident happened to a vindictive version of me.

Under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, libel is defined 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 discredit or cause the dishonor or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. Thus, the elements of libel are: (a) imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another; (b) publication of the imputation; (c) identity of the person defamed; and, (d) existence of malice.

Cybercrime law: Section 4. (4) Libel. – The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

Cybercrime law: Section 19. Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data. – When a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data.

According to the logic of University of the Philippines College of Law Professor Atty. JJ Disini, even though the said incident happened long before the cybercrime law took effect, together with my lawyer, I could argue that since the old libelous post is still live today, A is still publishing it now. Therefore, since A is still publishing it after the law took effect, A is liable for its publication today and can be charged with online libel.

Offended, I would approach and show the one-year-old status to the Secretary of Justice. Under Section 19 of the Cybercrime Law or Republic Act No. 10175, the Secretary would then issue an order blocking access to A’s computer data. Immediately, without any warning whatsoever, A’s right to communicate online would cease to exist and the opportunity to access and see his/her stored-information extinguished.

Additionally, I can obtain a search warrant to intercept A’s communications. A’s hard drive would then be seized and the data and files would be searched and read through by complete strangers. Without even being heard in a court of law, A would be deprived of the use of his/her own personal computer.

A will then be served a subpoena for the crime of libel under the Cybercrime law. A, a teenager, would be facing imprisonment charges of up to 12 years, without the possibility of parole, plus up to P1,000,000 in fines.

To further harass A, I would file another case of libel under the Revised Penal Code on top of the cyber-libel in which A has already been convicted. A would then be charged with two counts of libel or double jeopardy. This means that A will be placed twice in jeopardy for essentially the same infraction. So on top of the 12 year imprisonment sentence from the cyber-libel, another 4 years and two months of imprisonment is added, if A is found guilty on both counts.

That is 16 years of imprisonment, almost all of A’s life. If convicted, A would be a prisoner until his/her early 30s. And after A serves out the sentence, he/she will be permanently branded as a convicted felon. And you know what awaits convicted felons in our society? Nothing, other than endless ridicule, insults and prejudices. All that A has been working for since he/she was a child would all amount to nothing in the end. Destroyed, just because of one mundane status on a social media platform. Fun, right?

What if you were A? What if that old scathing remark you made about somebody years ago was dug up and used as a basis for filing charges against you? What if a momentary outburst could burden you for the rest of your life? What about the pages and statuses that you’ve liked and shared on Facebook? Or the witty tweets in Twitter that you re-tweeted? Or those fake Twitter accounts spoofing prominent people who you follow? With this law in effect, any of these transgressions could rob you of your freedom and dig a deep hole on your pocket. This could happen easily to anybody considering the extensive dependency of the youth in social networking.

Flannery O’Connor once said, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” According to journalist Raisa Robles, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo sued dozens of columnists in 2006 including one that referred to him as the ‘El Esposo Gordo’ or the ’Fat Husband’, which to be honest, is true. Remember, under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, libel is defined 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 discredit or cause the dishonor or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. Meaning, you can still be sued for libel even if what you are implying is true, as long as the person it is directed to take offense.

What if you made witty, sarcastic, ironic or suggestive metaphors about somebody and that person is easily offended? Remember the ‘Thor memes’ that circulated on the internet not a long while ago? What if that was about a real person and that person gets offended? Well, at least if we get jailed, it would be in the company of people with good sense of humor. We are so totally going to have Libel Luncheons everyday in our cell block.

As much as this affects us, this is more detrimental to the writers and investigative reporters. This would further curtail their rights as journalists, striving to inform the public whilst the burgeoning fear of being slapped on with a hefty double jeopardy by the wealthy and prominent. What would the media report then? The weather? Fluff pieces about what this senatorial candidate and that congressional candidate is doing to garner publicity? So if a government official is engaging in corrupt activities, can it still be reported by the media without being charged with two counts of libel? Isn’t this law indirectly abetting corruption, then? Where would we, the masses, get objective news about our country? As constituents in a democratic country, do we not deserve to get the full, untarnished, factual information, rather than suppressing it with this kind of censorship?

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”(Ayn Rand) Out of all our senators, only Senator Teofisto Guingona had the sound judgment and good foresight to oppose this bill. One, out of all the senators.

The libel clause stealthily inserted by none other than Sen. Tito Sotto is tantamount to implementing Martial Law online. This is a blow against freedom of speech and expression on the internet not to mention the privacy of private citizens. This law is unconstitutional and directly violates Article III, Section 4. of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” John F. Kennedy once said that “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”

It’s ironic that as we remember the 40th year since the repression of Martial Law ensued, we are under the same threat again, courtesy not of a dictator, but of self-serving politicians elected by the unknowing masses. What’s even more ironic is that the democracy so carefully restored by Corazon Aquino, the late president and mother of our incumbent president, and the rights of the Filipino masses that the late Sen. Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, father of our incumbent president, has died fighting for, would be challenged and tarnished under their own son’s regime. Didn’t President Noynoy Aquino promise us the Freedom of Information Bill? Why then did he not follow through with it and instead, approved a law that is directly the opposite? As Clarence Darrow once said, “History repeats itself. That’s one of the things wrong with history.”

 It was Mark Twain who wrote, “Loyalty to country always; loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” But when our rights to speak up and to voice out our opinions are stifled, we each need to take a stand. As U.S. President Barrack Obama once said, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.” “The freedom of speech is worthless without the freedom of offensive speech.” (Noam Chomsky)

Let us all appeal that the Cybercrime Law be rewritten; rewritten to ensure that it would cater to the needs whilst respecting the rights of its citizens. Let us appeal that the libel clause under Republic Act No. 10175 be repealed, as it infringes on the rights to privacy of individuals and takes the very essence out of democracy.

As Malcolm X wrote in By Any Means Necessary, “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” But as this law looms to silence our voices, let us remember that “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” (Aldous Huxley) “The greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly, hidden in the shadows. Remember that.” (Richelle Mead)


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Here They Are

1 Oct

By this time, I’m sure many of us are already well acquainted with the notorious topic that is the Cyber-crime Bill.

To show defiance, hackers defaced several government websites last week.

At precisely 1:00AM Today (October 1, 2012,) the National Telecommunications Commissions (ntc.gov.ph) too was defaced by hackers aptly named as Anonymous Philippines.

Although the site was already up and running about an hour later, the message of Anonymous still looms large.

With the “Rage Against The Machine” track, “Freedom,” blaring in the background, the text on the defaced site reads:

“This domain name asssociated with GOV.PH has been seized pursuant to an order issued by Anonymous Philippines.

A federal grand jury has indicated several individuals and entities allegedly involved in the operation of this website / department / office charging them with the following federal crimes:

Conspiracy, Violations of Human Rights, Corruption, Copyright infringement, Money Laundering, PIRACY, Misuse of Devices, Libel, Plagiarism, and Destruction of Freedom of Speech.”

Here is the threat promised by Anonymous to all the governments that threaten to squash the online freedom of its people everywhere:

“We are fighting for the truth and free speech
People should not fear the Government
the government should fear their people
anonymous is not a group
anonymous is not an organization
anonymous is an idea
and ideas are bullet proof

We are anonymous
We are Legion
United as one
Divided by none

the corrupt fear us
the honest support us
the heroic join us

Expect Us.”

Here they are.

 

REPEAL THE LIBEL CLAUSE IN REPUBLIC ACT 10175.

REWRITE THE CYBER-CRIME BILL.

The Ides of March Experience

10 Sep

I do not like smartass movies. Never. I am a girl’s girl that enjoys sappy chick-flicks and rom-coms. I cringed my way though The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Inception, Drive, and I could go on about this all day but you get the point. Anything other than these genres, expect me to be bored. So this goes without saying that I do not watch political thrillers which, The Ides of March obviously is.

I am the epitome of a woman. I like movies that invoke emotions. I like gut-wrenching scenes that make me cry. I like to cry with the heroines and take on their pain, as if they are mine, for an hour or so. Then the lights would flicker, and the moment is done. End of story. Back to reality.

With this, I am deeply ashamed to admit that I only watched The Ides Of March because of:

1. Ryan Gosling (Enough said.)
2. George Clooney (He wrote, starred and directed the film. Plus, yumm!)
3. Evan Rachel Wood (Yes, I still like her despite the fact that she was associated with Marilyn Manson WHILE he was married to Dita Von Teese.)

I apologize to writing the reasons this way. I’m still not over the awesomeness that is Looking For Alaska, which I just read. Thus, naturally, John Green’s way of writing rubbed off on me. For more details about this, I’ll be blogging about it in a dedicated blog post soon and will put a link here as well. Stay tuned! 🙂

I didn’t even know what The Ides of March was about when I watched it. I was just looking for something to watch while I was busy munching on licorice seeds. The first fifteen minutes went by and before I know it, I already set aside my food, ignored plans to go out and gave my undivided attention to the movie. Not the actors good looks, but the plot itself. This has never happened before, and I loved every minute of it.

STOP! INCOMING SPOILERS!

The lower section contains major plot spoilers from the movie The Ides of March. If you do not wish to read them, you can just take my word for it and watch the movie because it’s goo-oo-ood! And of course, you may read the entirety of my blog post then and comment. Or you could just read and comment about it now if you want. 🙂

I loved the fact that Stephen Meyer (Ryan Gosling) was such a true believer of Gov. Mike Morris (Geroge Clooney) and his presidential campaign. He was one of the rare diamonds that sparkle amongst the dirty and manipulating people involved in politics, which in this movie, is Duffy (Paul Giamatti.)

Stephen showed us that everybody puts themselves first. He reminded us that even the idealistic, when backed into a corner, would give in to the primal instinct of survival – that we would set aside our morals and beliefs and fight till our last breath, to crawl our way back. He showed us that collateral damage means nothing if it means getting what we want. Because ultimately, it’s every man is for himself. He showed us how selfish and imperfect we are.

People still debate on whether or not the movie has an open ending. It does not.

Stephen has become a cynic. He’s done it the right way the first time but was just used as a pawn in someone else’s sick game. Just like the loss of the intern Molly (Wood), he was easily replaceable. They chewed him up and spit him out without so much as a second glance.

I especially loved the confrontation scene of Stephen and Duffy (Giamatti.) So much so that I’m including some parts here:

Stephen: Give me the job.

Duffy: No. That’s not going to happen. I’m sorry. Go take a nice long vacation. You’re a smart guy. Everything that I said, the other day is absolutely true. But you know? Maybe, politics isn’t for you.

Stephen: Politics is my life!

Duffy: Oh, you know what? Do yourself a favor. Get out..now! While you still can. Go into entertainment or business. Go open a fucking restaurant in Costa Rica. Anything! Do something that’s going to make you happy, okay? Cause if you stay in this business long enough, you’re going to get jaded and cynical.

Stephen: Like you?

Duffy: Yeah, just like me!

———–

Stephen: This is…It’s my life, that you’re talking about.

Duffy: It doesn’t make me happy, doing this kind of thing. Don’t think, it gives me any kind of pleasure. No, I’m sorry for you. I really am. Take care of yourself.

But Stephen was willing to do anything and everything to stay in business (politics), not caring who gets hurt along the way. He got what he wanted, but at what expense? His innocence? His morals and virtues? The loss of something to believe in?

His words towards Ida (the reporter, Marisa Tomei) at the end when she was asking him for an inside scoop, showed how much he has changed. When told her “We’re the best of friends,” he was being sarcastic. Gone is his genuine effort to forge a friendship with her. He’s now a cynical liar and their ‘collaboration’ has ended.

At the last scene of the movie, when he was about to speak, he needed to keep hearing everything that is positive about Mike Morris because he himself, does not believe in him anymore. He lost the one thing he truly believed in.

Just for the record, he would not divulge everything in the interview. He would go on and mesmerize the cameras on cue, just as he always did. The viewers would be able to catch a glimpse of the old Stephen, like nothing has changed. Mie Morris would win the democratic vote and would go on serving as president.

But when the cameras stop rolling, Stephen is only a shell of the person he once was. He is now jaded, withdrawn and devoid of his virtues -perfect for politics.

If you still haven’t watched the movie, I suggest that you do, immediately. If not for the story, than for the all star ensemble then. Excellent writing, superb acting, exceptional story. Just please, watch it.

Please, please, please don’t hesitate to voice out your opinions about my opinions (say whut?) in the comment section below. Let’s bounce ideas! 🙂

 
 

xoxo,
D.

 

PS: I just wrote about the parts I found most striking about the movie. I did not include much of Molly (Woods) because I felt like you have to watch the movie to fully grasp her character.

PPS: This is not a review.

Tito Sotto: Translation 101

5 Sep

This is a picture I found online with the privilege speech given by Sen. Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III on September 5, 2012, side by side Robert F. Kennedy’s speech during Day of Affirmation, June 6 1966.

This is not Tito Sotto’s first plagiarism offense. Nor would it be the last. But this is the most shocking and abhorrent, yet.

He lifted and translated a speech of Robert F. Kennedy, a noted civil rights activist and the younger brother of assassinated president John F. Kennedy. And true to Tito Sotto fashion, he once again claimed it as his own. When once again, caught red-handed:



(Translation: Sotto: Kennedy knows how to speak Tagalog?)

 

Shame.

No words can even express this. He is making a mockery out of not only the Senate, but the entirety of the Philippines and his countrymen, as well. Tito Sotto is digging up his own political grave with his ignominious acts for all the world to see.

Is this the payback of electing under qualified celebrities and comediennes to political office? Well, I say never again.

This upcoming election, I will surely be exercising my right to vote to help (however little) alleviate our country of inglorious bastards like this.

Politicians are far from perfect but I hope that our country would be lead and represented by better suited people than this.

xoxo,
D.

PS: Pictures from this post are not mine. These are taken from various sources in the internet.