NBI cites rise in cyber-libel raps amid Bong Go complaint

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) — There has been a “significant increase” in the cyber-libel complaints filed by the public and several government officials over the past months, the National Bureau of Investigation said Friday.

Among the complainants are Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Vice President Leni Robredo, Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla and other national and local officials, the NBI said in a statement.

The disclosure was made following Go’s filing of a cyber-libel complaint against a college student, who was then served a subpoena.

The NBI explained that a subpoena “is a way to verify the veracity of the complaint and is part of due process to give opportunity to the subject of the complaint to be heard.”

“This includes the validation of the subject post or whether an assumed post, as a result of identity theft,” the NBI said.

READ: What to do when you receive an NBI subpoena

Go on Friday clarified that he is not going after his critics – only those who spread “fake news.”

“We have nothing against freedom of expression. Karapatan ‘yan ng bawat Pilipino pero kailangang intindihin ng lahat na may kasamang responsibilidad ito (That is a right of every Filipino but it comes with a responsibility,” Go said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

“Please use your freedom responsibly,” he said.

He said critics have nothing to fear if what they’re saying is true, since the complaint will go through due process.

In late June, Robredo told CNN Philippines that she asked the NBI to investigate who are behind the rumor that her office donated spoiled food to a hospital in Quezon City.

"I have been very reluctant in the past to file a case because I have strongly advocated for the decriminalization of libel and cyberlibel. Itong nangyayari (With what's happening) during the pandemic, I think these people have to be made accountable," Robredo said. 

The NBI reminded the public that it remains open to receiving complaints of violations to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, “regardless of their status in life, and political and organizational affiliation.”