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Online archives, armas pabor sa cyber libel (Sa hatol ng Manila Court vs Ressa)

NAKABABAHALA ang interpretasyon ng isang korte sa Maynila sa cyber libel kaya nahatulang guilty sina Rappler CEO Maria Ressa at dating researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos.

Sinabi ni Atty. Romel Regalado Bagares sa kanyang Facebook post, sa panahong maraming pahayagan ang gumagawa ng digital archives, ang mga artikulong naisulat ng isang mamamahayag kahit nag-iba na ng propesyon ay maaaring asuntohin ng cyber libel base sa naging desisyon ni Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa sa cyber libel case laban kina Ressa at Santos na isinampa ng negosyanteng si Wilfredo Keng.

Ani Bagares, batay sa interpretasyon ni Montessa sa “digital publication and republication,” ang pagtunghay sa digital archives ay isang republication kaya’t anomang artikulo na naisulat at nailathala online kahit tatlong taon o sampung taon na ang nakalipas ay maaaring gamitin para makasuhan ng cyber libel dahil ito’y “republished,” at ang prescription period, sabi ng hukom, ay 12 taon batay sa Cybercrime Act.

“Many newspapers are just beginning to digitize their archives; what does this mean in the light of the decision of the Manila RTC in the Rappler case? Let’s say you left journalism 3 years ago to join government or the private sector, and your former newspaper has just started giving access to its digital archives. Under the judge’s interpretation of digital publication and republication, opening access to the digital archives is republication. In other words, your articles from three years ago or even 10 years ago, can be used to sue you for cyber libel on the ground that they had been republished, since the prescription period, according to the judge, is 12 years, under the cybercrime act. You may be protected now because you are a government official, but then again, government administrations seldom last beyond their six-year term in office,” sabi ni Bagares, dating reporter ng pahayagang Philippine Star.

Sina Ressa at Santos ay nahatulang guilty sa cyber libel bunsod ng artikulong inilathala noong 2012 sa online news site ng Rappler na nag-akusa kay Keng na sangkot sa human trafficking at drug smuggling, kahit ang Cybercrime Act ay naging epektibo noong 2014.

Kaugnay nito, iginagalang umano ng Palasyo ang desisyon ng korte laban kina Ressa at Santos.

“Ang unang-unang paninindigan ng ating Pangulo, ito ay kaso na nilitis ng ating hukuman, respetohin natin ang desisyon ng hukuman,” sabi ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Ipinagmalaki ni Roque na kailanma’y hindi nagsampa ng kasong libel si Pangulong Duterte dahil naniniwala siya sa malayang pag-iisip at pananalita at ang paninindigan niya, ang taong-gobyerno hindi dapat balat-sibuyas.

Kaugnay nito, nagpahayag ng pakikiisa ang Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) sa iba’t ibang grupo na nagkondena sa naging desisyon ng hukuman sa cyber libel case nina Ressa at Santos.

“The conviction of Ressa and Santos underscores the long-standing demand of journalists to abrogate the “cyber libel” law which puts cross-hairs on journalists, critics and anyone expressing an opinion online. From the start, the Party has opposed the “cyber libel law” and has joined advocates of press freedom to decriminalize libel, anang CPP sa kalatas na ipinadala sa media kahapon. (ROSE NOVENARIO)

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