Arrest Ignites Netizens over Cybercrime Law

The arrest of anti-mining advocate Esperlita “Perling” Garcia on Thursday on grounds of libel started the rage among environmentalists and Internet users, in view that she was punished because of a purported critical post on Facebook.

The said rallyist believed that she was arrested for violating the online libel clause of the cybercrime law which was currently suspended by the Supreme Court.

However, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda expressed that the arrest of the 62-year-old advocate was not in violation of the cybercrime law, but of the actual libel provisions (Article 355) under the Revised Penal Code.

“The claim of Anakbayan is that this is based on the Cybercrime Protection Act. We verified it with the NBI who had done the arrest. The basis for the arrest was not the Cybercrime Protection Act, which we all know has been restrained by the Supreme Court,” Lacierda said.

Garcia was charged with libel by Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. because of her alleged harsh post against Pentecostes and his cruel dispersal of people who were meeting and planning for an anti-mining rally in a school compound on April 30.

Denying the allegations of Garcia, Pentecostes filed a libel complaint against the latter  in order to “teach her a lesson.”

“She portrayed me as a very bad person on Facebook. She has been making up stories about the supposed opposition of the people of Gonzaga against mining when in truth, there is no such resistance here now,” said Pentecoses.

Garcia was detained for one night on Thursday and was immediately released on Friday after payment for bail of Php10,000.

To further express the support of the netizens to Garcia, a Facebook page called “Cyber-Perling” was launched in order to vent out their rights to reveal alleged abusive conducts of public officials and other people in higher positions.

According to Green Convergence, a network of 10 environment Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), the arrest of Garcia is illegal and should not be tolerated by the Department of Justice (DOJ), even by any Filipino who loves freedom.

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