I think I have at last gotten to the bottom of the issue given the facts that are available.
Anyway, here’s the issue: Last week I said that Senator Pia Cayetano had moved for two amendments during the January 24, 2012 Senate plenary on Senate Bill 2796, which became the Cybercrime Law.
I was wrong.
At that time, of course, I thought I was right. At least that’s what it seemed when I went over the following documents: The Science and Technology Committee Report No. 30 consolidating all the cybercrime bills into Senate Bill 2796; the official transcript of the January 24 Senate plenary; and the January 24 Senate Journal which summarized the transcript.
But the protests of Senator Cayetano prompted me to continue digging away at the issue — as a journalist getting the facts and hopefully getting the truth is important to me.
I was also moved by the obvious agitation of @Baycas, one of the active commenters in this site, who prodded me to keep looking.
And so I continued looking at the documents and looking for sources
Today I finally found an eyewitness who could give the details of what happened on January 24, 2012 when the Cybercrime Law was amended and approved on Second Reading.
I wanted to know once and for all who had introduced the amendments to Senate Bill 2796 that were announced that day by Senator Edgardo Angara, the measure’s main sponsor. SB 2796 consolidated all the bills and resolutions filed on cybercrime into one bill.
The eyewitness I located was willing to talk to me, but on condition of anonymity. The source whom I will call “Alpha” told me that on January 24, 2012 Senator Pia Cayetano only made remarks and no amendments.
Senator Cayetano, the source explained to me,
was just remarking. Since she was the author of the Anti-Child Pornography Act (Republic Act 9775), she was just requesting for an alignment of this with this (Cybercrime) bill. (Because) In the previous versions of the (Cybercrime) bill, there was a separate definition for child pornography.
Alpha said that because of this, Angara’s Committee on Science and Technology:
had decided to align the definition plus the penalties
In relation to this, @Baycas e-mailed me something which appears to support what Alpha said.
@Baycas noted that SB 2796 – which was issued in May 2011 – contained a lengthy provision on child pornography:
CHAPTER II – PUNISHABLE ACTS
SEC. 4. Cybercrime Offenses.
C. Content-related Offenses:
Child Pornography – refers to any representation, whether visual, audio, or written combination thereof, by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means, of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities.
For the purpose of this Act, a “child” refers to a person below eighteen (18) years of age or over, but is unable to fully take care of himself/herself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition. A child shall also refer to: (a) a person regardless of age who is presented, depicted or portrayed as a child as defined herein; and (b) computer-generated, digitally or manually crafted images or graphics of a person who is represented or who is made to appear to be a child as defined herein.
The unlawful or prohibited acts constituting child pornography shall be defined and punishable by Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Law.
@Baycas noted that the January 24, 2012 transcript actually quoted Sen. Angara entering into the records a shortened version of the same section to read as follows:
2. CHILD PORNOGRAPHY – THE UNLAWFUL OR PROHIBITED ACTS DEFINED AND PUNISHABLE BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9775 OR THE ANTI-CHILD PORNOGRAPHY LAW, ESPECIALLY AS COMMITTED THROUGH A COMPUTER SYSTEM.
The apparent abridging of the Definition of Child Pornography was already manifested during the Interpellations Stage and Sen. Angara was just reading the amendments into the Record. Sen. Pia Cayetano just made sure this was successfully accomplished in the process that’s why she stood up at that point when it was read.
From unabridged version in May 2011 to the simplified version in January 2012…
If it was any consolation to me, Alpha told me I was not the only one who had read the January 24, 2012 Senate Journal wrong. Alpha said:
Many people were misled by the Senate journal into thinking the list of amendments beneath the phrase REMARKS OF SENATOR CAYETANO (P) were hers.
I also asked Alpha if the crime of “online libel” was already contained in SB 2796 before January 24, 2012. Alpha said:
It was an amendment by another senator that day.
Was it Senator Vicente Sotto III who had introduced “online libel” as an insertion that day, January 24, I asked.
Alpha said “Yes.”
So there it is. What I hope is the last word on the issue. My hubby and editor Alan says that one of the most important things about journalism is the correction factor.
That’s why with this correction, I owe Senator Cayetano an apology, but Senator Sotto none.
Below are screencaps of portions of pages 12 and 13 of the transcript of the January 24, 2012 Senate plenary when Sen. Angara read out the amendments to SB 2796 and it was passed on Second Reading. I have underlined in red the pertinent portions.
You can also download the entire Jan. 24, 2012 transcript below. [NOTE: It has an interesting portion about former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s plunder case in connection with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.]