Drilon: Anti-terror law regulating social media is ‘illegal, unconstitutional’

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the new AFP chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay’s suggestion to use Anti-Terror law in regulating social media is “illegal and unconstitutional.”

“That will go beyond the real intent of the law and, therefore, it is illegal and unconstitutional. Freedom of speech is a sacred and inviolable right of every human being. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech,” Drilon said.

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Drilon insisted the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) could not contradict the text of the law itself. He added the Supreme Court (SC) cases held that executive acts contradicting statutes or the Constitution are invalid.

“No law can be amended by a mere administrative rule issued for its implementation,” he said.

“There is nothing in the law (that) would allow enforcers to regulate or control social media. A proper governmental purpose may not be achieved by means that unnecessarily sweep its subject broadly, thereby invading the area of protected freedoms,” he added.

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Also read: New AFP chief wants Anti-Terror law to regulate social media

Drilon said an act of the government that chills expression is subject to nullification or injunction from the courts, as it violates Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution.

“The threat of restraint, as opposed to actual restraint itself, may deter the exercise of the right to free expression almost as potently as the actual application of sanctions,” he said.

“If the intention is to clamp down on terrorist propaganda posted on social media, there are existing models on how that can be done without the need to regulate social media in general – YouTube videos and soundbites posted by terrorist groups communicating to a wider audience are clearly identifiable and may be taken down,” he added.

The AFP’s 54th chief of staff said regulating social media would prevent radicalism and radicalization of the youth.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr., meanwhile, said provisions of the anti-terror law do not cover social media.

“First of all, that is the opinion of General Gapay. I read the anti-terror law. There is no provision that says it can be used on social media. What we have for that is the cybercrime law, where there is a provision (about social media), but that would be subject to the authority granted by the courts,” Roque said.

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