Four decades have passed since then President Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law. Throughout the regime, thousands of Filipinos lost their lives fighting for freedom. Many others, though they may be said to have survived, were severely physically and psychologically tortured, their human rights thoroughly violated.
Forty years later, even as we have yet to fully experience a fully functioning democracy, another monkey wrench has been thrown on our right to free speech.
The Internet has become an important tool and a strong, effective force of activism. Many campaigns gained ground and strong support from the public through social media. The Internet was a “place” for critical minds to say what needs to be said about the government and its officials, without fear of imprisonment. Was. Because it is now a thing of the past.
With the passage of the cybercrime law, imposing criminal penalties for “online libel,” the freedom of expression is again being curtailed. The medium that used to encourage and mobilize public vigilance is now guarded by the government. From now on, anyone who uses the Internet to say anything offensive to someone could end up in jail.
From martial law we’ve learned the importance of freedom of expression. Thousands of lives were “paid” to regain that freedom. Today, in light of what looks like a declaration of “cybermartial law,” we need to be all the more vigilant. We want real democracy, a fully functioning democratic country, and we say, “Never again to martial law,” cyber or not.
Originally published in Inquirer