Monday, October 8, 2012


Don’t just call for a repeal of RA 10175. Libel, as a crime, should be repealed as well.

If libel were decriminalized tomorrow, would everyone start publishing baseless lies and insults against each other just because they’re “allowed”? Or, would people consider the loss of credibility and esteem that comes with making baseless or tactless assertions? Perhaps most will not be inclined to publicize their true sentiments in the first place.

If people/consumers desire and patronize publications that aim for truth and respect, then libelous publications would be ignored their way out of business soon enough, or left to a limited, miserable readership.

And if we live in a world where people do patronize lies and mudslinging, that places the problem of libel on the readership, and not the rags that merely exploit such base appeal.

Such a situation would not be remedied by threatening people with jail for saying what they want. People should be free to believe as they do, and associate with other groups according to the sympathy or relations they develop — the activities of which may well include derogatory remarks against other parties. If people are inhibited from associating in this manner, this does not raise the quality of discourse; it merely stifles it, usually in favor of a political elite that thus escapes criticism.

In all this, no actual act of violence, of transgressing another’s person, is ever made with libel anyway, be it online (as covered by RA 10175), or in ‘real life.’

On the other hand, threatening someone with imprisonment for saying what they want within the confines of their property — or as agreed upon between property owners (as is the case with mass media) — does constitute a transgression. 

Criminalizing libel is the real crime.