The Philippines is now Under Cyber-Martial law

We are now under 'cyber-martial law'

By: Bobit S. Avila

Those who oppose RA 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012 failed to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) when the Supreme Court went on an en banc session last Tuesday to the great dismay of Netizens, many of whom are literally wired in the Internet highway. Actually, if I just used those short Twitter lines from irate and indignant people, it would make an easy ten columns full. This is not to mention how many people are in Facebook that are cursing the Aquino regime for allowing this bill to become law.

Remember no one has yet filed any libel cases against these people because libel cases happen mostly in mainstream media. I myself have a libel case that has been dragging on for the past three years thanks to our snail-paced justice. So when Netizens heard about the many cases being filed against media, it just scared them that the Aquino government has become worse than Martial Law were even a simple "like" that you click in Facebook about an anti-government comment might send you to jail.

Meanwhile, mainstream groups have already filed their respective petitions against the Anti-Cybercrime Act… but the Supreme Court is asking for more time. This is where that TRO would have been perfect. But as it is, while the Supreme Court is dilly-dallying on this case… the Anti-Cybercrime Act came into effect yesterday and it won't stop anyone from filing cases in court against those whom they would consider as "cyber criminals."

In short… 40 years after martial law was imposed in this country, we face another dark cloud hanging over our precious freedom of expression. As the Netizens have declared, we are in a situation called "cyber-martial law." People have not forgotten that when the mainstream media was literally owned by Marcos cronies, the "mosquito press" emerged that even the Marcos dictatorship dared not touch. Now we have blogs, social networking and Facebook that tell a different story from the main headlines.

If you ask me, Malacañang should stop defending the anti-cyber crime law because they are no longer fighting ordinary (we are very few) columnists, but a huge number of our citizens, mostly young voters who will certainly fight back when they believe that their human right of free speech will be trampled by law. This situation is potentially explosive!

*      *      *

I flew to Manila last Friday for a day-long meeting and flew back to Cebu the following day. As always, my Cebu Pacific Air flight boarded right on schedule, but due to traffic congestion in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) tarmac, we had to wait on the ground for at least 30 minutes… Gads! That's half the flight time to Cebu. As I had a window seat, the waiting on the plane afforded me the opportunity to look at the numerous flocks of birds that literally threatened any aircraft (and its passengers) taking off or landing in NAIA.

Between the main runway and the taxiway are large pools or ponds of water, which I reckon is a collecting area for rainwater on the runway or taxiway apron. It is the presence of these watering holes that lure many species of wildlife into the NAIA complex. Perhaps the most dangerous where the flock of Egrets or Herons that flew freely all around the area. So what's the game plan of NAIA officials on how to get rid of this threat to aviation? Should they preserve the wildlife or human lives?

Sometime in the mid-'90s, when I was still a board member of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), we were invited to Schipol International Airport and a neighboring airport that it also operated in Rotterdam. It was there that I posed the question on how they handle the issue on wildlife, especially in the era where environmentalists often fought with the airport officials to preserve wildlife.

In Rotterdam, they had a Land Rover manned by a Ukrainian who was in constant radio contact with the airport tower. Inside his Land Rover were two species of predator birds, a Kestrel and a Falcon that he doesn't feed for a month. When the control tower sees a flock of birds, they call the Ukrainian who then releases a Falcon, which then seeks its prey. When the Falcon gets its prey, the Ukrainian then guns the engine of his vehicle and drives towards where the birds have fallen. When we got there, only the feathers were left. He then picks up the Falcon and puts him back on its cage.

This is what they do in Rotterdam. But in La Guardia International in New York City, who can forget that fateful day in January 15, 2009 when US Airways flt.1919 crash landed in the Hudson River because the plane, an Airbus A-320-214 struck a flight of Wild Geese and both engines flamed out. We all saw this live on CNN… but they were the lucky ones. So what do we do about our problem in NAIA when it is a question between human lives or a flock of birds? In my book… saving human lives should be our priority!

For e-mail responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mo-pzcom.com  or vsbobita@gmail.com . His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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