Philippines Government Uses Cybercrime Law To Arrest A Citizen For Calling The President An 'Asshole'
from the shame-truth-can't-be-used-as-a-defense dept
All things are cyber these days, including handy government tools meant to shield thin-skinned leaders from criticism. For a guy who goes around bragging about killing drug dealers, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte seems oddly unable to handle being called what he is.
Police arrested on Wednesday, May 13, a 41-year-old salesman in Butuan City for a Facebook post where he called President Rodrigo Duterte an “asshole” and “crazy.”
Caraga police said in a Facebook post that they arrested Reynaldo Orcullo for allegedly committing cyberlibel, or violation of Section 4(c)(4) of the Cybercrime Law.
Police said Orcullo is now under the custody of the Police Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit.
Good old libel, but with 100% more “cyber.” Whatever due process might have been in place for regular libel is pretty much gone now that it’s been stapled to an abusive “cybercrime” law that allows the government to punish critics with impunity. Truth is no defense when charged with “cyberlibel.” Nor are opinions considered protected, even though the country’s constitution says otherwise. Call the president an “asshole” and you get to go to jail, even it’s an opinion that’s arguably true.
This is more of the same for President Duterte, whose government has continually harassed (and arrested) journalists for simply reporting the news. This continues to happen in a country with a bill of rights that forbids the government from abridging citizens’ free speech rights, including the freedom of the press.
But this is also a country that routinely engages in extrajudicial killings and state-ordained kidnappings. So, a post that criticized Duterte resulted in an arrest, which only served to highlight the president’s hypocrisy. Other critics (who remain unarrested at the moment) pointed out cursing at Duterte shouldn’t be considered offensive when the president himself hurls obscenities towards his political enemies in nationally televised speeches.
Then there’s this response from the police department, which sets some pretty arbitrary standards for “free” speech.
“Again I remind our social media users to think thrice before posting on any social media platform. Be responsible netizens. We do enjoy the blessings of democracy but never go beyond from what you think is right without minding you violate the provisions of the law,” [police chief Joselito] Esquivel said.
Enjoy your free speech, citizens. But self-censor when you do. Otherwise, expect to spend some time being subjected to a criminal justice system that has had every one of its excesses blessed by the man running the country.