MEDIA GROUPS, online activists, students, and civil society groups gathered at the EDSA People Power Shrine on Tuesday to commemorate Black Tuesday in protest over the Cyber Libel provision of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The protest was also timed with the 28th anniversary of the People Power Revolution. On February 25, 1986, Ferdinand Marcos fled the country at the climax of a four-day rebellion that saw millions of Filipinos spilling out into EDSA to demonstrate against his regime.
Today’s activists however commemorated the 28th anniversary of EDSA differently, by decrying what they called the sliding back to a more restrictive regime that is intolerant of criticisms, online and offline.
The demonstrators said the cyber libel provision in the law further restricts freedom of expression and freedom of the press, by expanding the coverage of libel to the digital domain.
THe Philippines has one of the most restrictive libel laws among so-called democratic states, punishing those found guilty with fines and a prison term. In addition, Philippine libel law also provides that malice is presumed in an allegedly libelous material, unless proven otherwise by the accused in court.
The following are today’s scenes from the EDSA People Power Shrine, where ordinary people blocked soldiers and tanks loyal to Marcos 28 years ago. Protesters, mostly composed of the youth, resisted attempts to be driven out of the shrine by local security and police. The protesters also offered flowers to policemen in scenes reminiscent of the peace demonstrations during the Vietnam War.