Baybayin and The Cybercrime Law

By now you should know about the Philippine Cybercrime Law shotgun approach to stop online “crime”. Read about it here. While the act has some good basic things to protect against child pornography, spam and etc but most of it is vague and may lead to jail time for liking a supposed libel Facebook post. I’m not gonna go into all of the bad possibilities but I’ll talk about something deeply personal and how this relates to the work we as Baybayin advocates do.

If we criticize certain people in big business and the government about their attempts to destroy indigenous culture, we can now be charged with libel and punished. Regardless of our regional sentiments, all citizens of the Philippines should stand up to this new freedom stifling “cybercrime law”.

Norman de los Santos

You may think that this law can’t affect Baybayin but it does because Baybayin is political and freedom of expression. Baybayin was at the forefront of our fight for freedom from the Spanish. Th Ka sign has become synonymous with Kalayaan (freedom). Everyone from rebel leftists to the Philippine military uses it.

One of the reasons Baybayin almost became instinct was because of politics. Current efforts to “revive” it is politics and with any political discussion come debate and criticism that can now be deemed libel.

Sure, it’s difficult to prove malicious intent, a key ingredient of any libel suite but anyone with money and a lawyer can force the supposed lawbreaker into an expensive and time consuming legal battle if they can afford a lawyer. This cybercrime law empowers those with power to harras those with little power.

Some of you may remember the Ticao stone news from last year where the Baybayin community from the US and Canada questioned if the stone was really ancient or not. After an article came out on GMA News, I wrote this piece as a response to UP Anthropology professors.

Could Barry be in trouble for his comments to the professors?

Hell, this whole post could land me in jail!

Ray Haguisan could be sued for libel for calling out a corporation for reposting a photo of an incorrect Baybayin shirt with stolen fonts from my website where I call out Kultura?

Mike Pangilinan calls out politician from Pampanga who use Tagalog. Can he get into legal issues for his criticisms?

Criticizing a company or government body for incorrectly using Baybayin could get you a lawsuit as I wrote about the Department of Budget and Management.

This law turns critics into criminals.

I’m not even going to get into the potential artstic limitations….

This also greatly affects the Baybyain National Script Act bill. This will be put on the back burner until this Cyberbullshit is taken care of.

Since I’m an American citizen, I should be untouchable right? Don’t know with the law written so vaguely even Mark Zuckerberg could be a criminal because he runs Facebook that’s the vehicle for committing these “crimes”. If I go home to the Philippines can I be arrested?

I’m supposed to be getting my Philippine citizenship so that I can be a dual but with this issue, I don’t know now. I’ll have to wait it out.

On a personal note, I took part of the protest and put up an image on the homepage but I’m saddened that it seems like there aren’t many pissed off Filams. The weird thing is that many of the older generation came to America due to the Marcos martial law. I’ve heard so many stories how bad it was. I think there could be a digital divide where that generation doesn’t understand the dynamics of the internet or they are just totally over the Philippines where they just don’t give a shit because they were scared for life. So I can understand that generation as to why they are silent on the issue.

What baffles me is the younger generation of Filams and Filam groups who are relatively silent on the issue. October is Filipino American month, now is a perfect time to talk about this issue. Is it because it doesn’t affect them? Are they wanting to stay in good standing with the local Philippine Consulate?

BTW, I’m just basing thing on what I’ve seen on Facebook. There were more posts about Jessica Sanchez on American Idol rather than Cyber-Martial Law and the loss of freedom.

Baybayin Bill – National Script Act of 2011

baybayin bill - national script act 2011
Baybayin Bill – House Bill no.4395

As part of a Baybayin talk I participated in last week at Guro Dan Inosanto’s Academy, the presenter (Jay Enage of Baybayin Buhayin Inc.) showed me the “Baybayin Bill” known as the “National Script Act of 2011” sponsored by Representative Leopoldo N. Bataoil.

Yes, an actual law that will require that Baybayin be taught in schools and be used in everyday life! This is something the Baybayin community has been talking and debating about for years and now it may become a reality.

Here are the bill Sections:

An act providing for the protection and conservation of Baybayin, and declaring Baybayin as the National Script of the Philippines

SECTION 1: This Act shall be known as the “National Script Act of 2011”

SECTION 2: It is a declared policy of the state to inculcate, propagate and preserve our cultural heritage and treasures for the evolution and development of patriotism among our citizenry. The state shall give utmost priority to the conservation and promotion of arts, letters and culture of our nation as a tool for cultural and economic development.

SECTION 3: Babayin also known as Alibata is herby declared the national script of the Philippines. The official adoption of Baybayin as the national script shall be promulgated by inscribing Baybayin in all products locally produced or processed in the Philippines. Manufactures of processed or food products shall include on the label a translation in Baybayin. The Department of Trade and Industries shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this Act.

SECTION 4: Baybayin shall also include in the curriculum of the elementary and secondary schools. The Department of Education shall likewise promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this Act.

SECTION 5: Any provision of law, decree, executive order, rule or regulation in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions and/or purposes of this Act is hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SECTION 6: This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

One item in the bill that will cause controversy is the claim that “The Baybayin scripts were culled from our giant shells, the Taklobo, in which our forefathers gathered giant pearls, that is the reason why we were called the “Pearl of the Orient”.

I sincerely applaud the mission of the bill it will certainly bring up many important points:

1) No standardization
2) What is the government cost to roll-out?
3) How will this affect businesses in an already bleeding cash?
4) Is the script name too Tagalog-centric?
5) What about other living scripts like the Mangyan, Palawaan or Kapampangan?
6) Who will teach the teachers?
7) Who will create the educational materials?
8) Who will coordinate all of this?

What do you think? Is it a good idea for the government to implement something that appears yet to have a solid foundation?

Is this something that can be compared to changing the name of the Philippines?