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.

Filed Under: cyberlibel, free speech, insults, philippines, reynaldo orcullo, rodrigo duterte


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 3:26am

    A twist on a "classic"

    Discretion is when you show restraint. Censorship is when the government restrains you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wayne Andersen (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 4:49am

    I hate to be picky but you mispelled ruining.

    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(ruining) the country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 5:12am

    Isn't duterte the word for asshole in Tagalog?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 7:44am

      Re: Tagalog for "*sshole"?

      You mean, like a google search for "santorum"?

      But anyone orchestrating a Google bomb would need to be very careful not to enter the Philippines, or to have vulnerable relatives there...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 21 May 2020 @ 5:19am

    Ah yes. The Cyberpolice!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 21 May 2020 @ 5:21am

    Rodrigo Duterte is an exceptional president. His policies have made a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in the Philippines, and encouraged human rights activists around the world to sit up and take notes.

    His reign has been life-changing for millions, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the country willing to say bad things about him.

    Many people in the Philippines and around the world want to meet Duterte in person, simply so they can give back a little of what he's done unto his country.

    ...No, I'm not insinuating anything. Why do you ask?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2020 @ 5:50am

    I don't know what to say about them but the drug cartels don't usually have extrajudicial killings done to them.

    They usually have extrajudicial killings done by them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hmayle, 21 May 2020 @ 7:52am

    The United States in continuation with its complete lack of morality is selling this monster billions of dollars worth of military equipment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 21 May 2020 @ 8:02am

    Still I wonder:

    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.

    How is that not straight out of the current U.S. playbook?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2020 @ 8:16am

      Re: Still I wonder:

      Because the US is still not openly at that level of lawlessness. Some people have Duterte envy the way others have jihad envy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2020 @ 9:22am

    guess the TRUTH HURTS, then! this is typical of the way dictators behave and the lengths they'll go to to prevent anyone from speaking out against them! look at how many countries do the same thing and how many of them are supposed to be Democratic countries, believing in privacy and freedom (until the opinions are contrary to the person in charge!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 10:41am

    Thereby proving that the statement was true - and the statement being true is a defense against a libel charge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 12:05pm

    What are the odds?

    That we could find Descartes, site and Even on face book, and fill it with A-hole's..
    Target set..
    Fire 1.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 12:05pm

    You are free to praise the Dear Leader as much as you want

    "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.

    Translation: 'You have all the rights that we allow you, and you are free to say whatever we agree with. Do or say anything else at your peril.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 21 May 2020 @ 12:37pm

    Duterte is an Asshole

    There. I said it.

    Anyone who disagrees, just be sure to post here on TechDirt, which is based in the US where we do actually allow people to disagree... or call assholes what they are... assholes.

    Duterte is an asshole.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2020 @ 9:55pm

      Re: Duterte is an Asshole

      I wonder if he has a foreign-outreach defamation corps like Erdoğan.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pixelation, 22 May 2020 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re: Duterte is an Asshole

        " I wonder if he has a foreign-outreach defamation corps like Erdoğan." Watch out for the long arm of Gollum...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 23 May 2020 @ 2:15pm

      Re: Duterte is an Asshole

      I can provide that in Spanish, thanks to Google Translate:

      Duterte es un gilipollas

      However, translate does not appear to support tagalog, which is one of the other major languages of the former Philippine colony. Anyone have some help they can offer?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2020 @ 1:48pm

    well..

    Caraga wasn't accused of being a drug dealer and gunned down in the streets by an unknown vigilante so... yay?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 21 May 2020 @ 5:51pm

    All hail, president a**hole!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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