Two Senators in One
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago runs hot and cold with me. She is hot with her sponsorship of the bill she just introduced entitled: "An Act Establishing a Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, Cybercrime Prevention and Law Enforcement, Cyberdefense and National Cybersecurity.”
Now this bill addresses many of the same issues as the Cybercrime Act. Indeed, it declares the Cybercrime Law null and void, dead and buried. The new law was written by the people who must live under the act - bloggers and publishers and internet operators - rather than by the police. It was the police, after all (the Justice Department), that supplied legislators with the language for the Cybercrime Bill. That is why that bill was detached both from practicality and, possibly, constitutionality.
So the perspective of this bill is infinitely different and much more respective of free expression. The two aspects of the bill that interested me most were: (1) intellectual property rights, and (2) libel provision. Here's a short interpretation of each section:
- Intellectual Property: Any material published on the internet is considered copyrighted when published. The penalty for stealing someone else's original work is damages plus legal costs. This effectively makes the complainant whole without draconian penalties. Only material cases would end up in court. Nuisance cases would fall to the wayside. The "bias" is toward open expression.
- Libel: The plaintiff must prove malice and damage. If successful, the award is damages incurred. The law specifically allows for criticism of public officials. The dark-ages value of jailing those found guilty of libel for 12 years (the penalty in the current Cybercrime Law, which is being held back from implementation by Supreme Court's Temporary Restraining Order) is thrown out.
Is that beautiful, or what? Thanks to The Pro-Pinoy Project for putting the text of the bill on line. Click over there if you want to read the details of the proposed legislation. And big thanks to the group of people who crafted this legislation.
The section on libel is appended to this blog at the end.
The section on libel is appended to this blog at the end.
Back to Senator Santiago. As I wrote a few blogs ago, she is also on the rant about the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the U.S. and Philippines. She has been upset about that document since the Nicole incident many years ago. Currently she is angry that a contractor to the U.S. Navy may have dumped improperly treated waste into domestic waters, and she holds the VFA up as the reason. The rub, unfortunately, is that her public rant risks sowing discord between allies. With China drooling just off the coast.
It would seem to me that a change in this document, if warranted, could easily be pursued quietly between partners. Why does she rant in public? (1) Possibly because she wants to apply pressure on the U.S. to change the document, or (2) She is interested in the limelight, and doesn't really care about the well-being of the Philippines.
Neither is a particularly honorable way to proceed. "Just sayin' . . ."
I'm happy to see Senator Cayetano upset with the old men of the Senate, those calcifying crustaceans of ancient bearing and distorted moral foundation, Enrile, Sotto and maybe even Recto. Women need to run riot in the Philippines to end the lock that those unbendable political sticks have on laws that protect women. And immediately after RH is done, women ought to demand the right to divorce. Marriage is a contract, you know? It is not a slave sale or indentured bondage.
Get God out of the picture and put some common sense and compassion into those marriages where the husband is physically abusive, plays with other women, or refuses to support the kids. Or where the woman does those things. Trust me, trust me, trust me, Jesus is not a sadist and he is compassionate toward women. He was written into the Bible to temper the anger and hostility His Old Man displayed throughout the Old Testament. So let's just get right with Jesus, eh?
Small Philippines, Big Philippines
I'm rather believing the social health of the Philippines depends on two factors: (1) continued use and expansion of the internet, and (2) building a large middle class that has values apart from desperate need.
- The internet can be an educational supplement, you know, like taking vitamins. It allows people to find social enlightenment through interaction with others around the globe. I believe enlightenment is antigravity matter that flows uphill to the most respectful, learned and responsible level.
- The middle class, to sustain its middleness and its classiness, must set aside the envies and grasping needs that lead to anger, theft and cheating. Young people are the hope, and OFW's returning home bringing the disciplines learned abroad, respectful of law and order and responsibility.
President Aquino has a small vision for the Philippines. I said that in Saturday's blog. He does not have a large vision. His is authoritarian, controlling, dast I say, anal? It is not vibrant and uplifting. He does not see freedom and transparency as fuel for ideas and honor and productivity and REAL pride.
Sure, I could be wrong. I would be happy, happy, happy to be wrong. But I see him complaining again about the media and I know he is thinking small.
The possibility exists that he will waste the grand rush of good will that put him into office.
The internet is unforgiving of people who are okay with a Small Philippines. . .
I like the weather in the Philippines. Our area is cool and breezy except for the middle of the day, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. For these past few weeks, we have been riding on the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which slides north and south as it moves east and west, much like a snake in the grass. So we get splatterings of rain and gustiness of wind now and then. Here's the official Wiki explanation of things:
- The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as "the doldrums", is the area encircling the earth near the equator where the northeast and southeast trade winds come together. The ITCZ appears as a band of clouds, usually thunderstorms, that circle the globe near the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the trade winds move in a southwestern direction from the northeast, while in the Southern Hemisphere, they move northwestward from the southeast. When the ITCZ is positioned north or south of the equator, these directions change according to the Coriolis effect imparted by the rotation of the earth. For instance, when the ITCZ is situated north of the equator, the southeast trade wind changes to a southwest wind as it crosses the equator. The ITCZ is formed by vertical motion largely appearing as convective activity of thunderstorms driven by solar heating, which effectively draw air in; these are the trade winds.
And here is link to a fine, live satellite view of the Pacific courtesy of the U.S. Navy, those evil allies who hired the Malaysian contractor who dumped stuff into the Bay and drove Senator Latin Santiago nuts. "The humiliation! The humiliation!"
The Wise Men and Women of the Society
I am developing a pretty rich understanding of the social psychology that makes the Philippines click. Or fail to. I figure the Society of Honor will soon be the foremost place on the planet to go to understand the ways and whys of the Philippines. And YOU my trusty readership are the masters, the teachers, the mysterious people in brown robes, hoods pulled over shadowy faces, who wander amongst the trees muttering their counsel to the Oracle, Joe of Am. Except for Angry Maude. She screams, of course, obscenity laden tirades, but what can we do about that?
Ahahahaha, I can see the characters now. There's Edgar, right over there on that stump, huge tome in hand, citing Greek and Zoroastrian wisdoms and enumerating them the way an engineer orders tasks. One hand is waving now and then in the air as he pulls out yet another profound finding and adds it to the list as 6.3.
Johnny is cracking Sancho Panza jokes at Mariano who is drunk in the corner babbling strange Englitches whilst DocB translates them into Latin. Cha is mostly slapping her forehead. Others are wandering and wondering, as good gurus are inclined to do.
We shall set ourselves up as a Society of Honorable Oracles. If you are Filipino, you can come to this place to gain wisdom. Or if you are alive with an inquiring open mind, you can come here, too.
I wonder if there's any money to made in that. Counselors to the lost, or to foreign investors, or to the political leaders in the Philippines. Oh, I already said lost. Sorry.
I see no need to be penurious about our wisdom.
ADDENDUM: Extract on Libel from the Magna Carta . . .
ADDENDUM: Extract on Libel from the Magna Carta . . .
Section 33. Internet Libel . . .
A.I. Internet libel. - Internet libel is a public and malicious expression tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead, made on the Internet or on public networks.
A.2. Malice as an essential element of internet libel. - Internet libel shall not lie if malice or intent to injure is not present.
A.3. Positive identification of the subject as an essential element of internet libel. - Internet libel shall not lie if the public and malicious expression does not explicitly identify the person who is the subject of the expression, except if the content of the expression is sufficient for positive and unequivocal identification of the subject of the expression.
A.4. Exceptions to internet libel. - The following acts shall not constitute internet libel:
a) Expressions of protest against the government, or against foreign governments;
b) Expressions of dissatisfaction with the government, its agencies or instrumentalities, or its officials or agents, or with those of foreign governments;
c) Expressions of dissatisfaction with non-government organizations, unions, associations, political parties, religious groups, and public figures;
d) Expressions of dissatisfaction with the products or services of commercial entities;
e) Expressions of dissatisfaction with commercial entities, or their officers or agents, as related to the products or services that the commercial entities provide;
f) Expressions of a commercial entity that are designed to discredit the products or services of a competitor, even if the competitor is explicitly identified;
g) An expression made with the intention of remaining private between persons able to access or view the expression, even ifthe expression is later released to the public; and,
h) A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial, legislative or other official proceedings, or of any statement, report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions, or of any matter of public interest.
A.5. Truth as a defense. - Internet libel shall not lie if the content of the expression is proven to be true, or if the expression is made on the basis of published reports presumed to be true, or if the content is intended to be humorous or satirical in nature, except if the content has been adjudged as unlawful or offensive in nature in accordance with existing jurisprudence.
Violation of Section 33. A. 1. (Internet libel) - This shall only give rise to civil liability and the amount shall be commensurate to the damages suffered.