A bill has been filed at the House of Representatives to strengthen legislation against the growing menace of cyber bullying, including threats made through social media posts.
Surigao del Sur representative Johnny Pimentel has filed House Bill 4795, which seeks to reinforce the existing provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Revised Penal Code against online harassment.
“We have to protect all individuals, regardless of gender, against all forms of electronic violence, including those that are not necessarily sexual in nature, but may be due to the victim’s race or religion, or even political affiliation,” Pimentel said.
“Our bill basically recognizes that anybody — even a male person – may possibly be tormented over the Internet for any reason, and this is what we seek to counteract,” Pimentel said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier filed a bill seeking to criminalize the gender-based electronic violence against women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders.
The Senate bill was in answer to the online shaming of a female student of the University of Asia and the Pacific who joined a rally against the burial of the late President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The student was “mobbed” online by Marcos loyalists with threats of sexual assault.
Under Pimentel’s House bill, the following acts shall be punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of up to P500,000, or both.
• Threatening a person via text messaging, social media posts or other electronic media;
• Placing a person in fear of imminent physical harm through text messaging, social media posts or other electronic media;
• Engaging in willful, reckless or malevolent conduct that causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to a person by way of electronic media;
• Sharing via social media posts indecent, obscene, lewd and abusive remarks with sexual contents harassing the person of the victim;
• Posting remarks that induce, abet or incite others into threatening or harassing a person by means of text messaging, social posts or other electronic media; and
• Using fictitious social media accounts in the commission of the preceding acts.
Under the bill, if the offender is “a person in authority and/or an agent,” he or she shall suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office, profession or calling.