Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sedition in the Philippines

The Philippines government has filed charges in absentia against a former intelligence officer for propagating (allegedly doctored) audiotapes which purport to record President Arroyo conspiring with an election official to fix the vote in the 2004 presidential election. The charge? "Inciting sedition". And in the Philippines, that's even more of a bullshit crime than it is here.

The Philippines' sedition law was originally drafted in 1930, amended multiple times by executive orders from President Marcos, and restored to its original form in 1987. It defines sedition as:

Art. 139. Sedition; How committed. - The crime of sedition is committed by persons who rise publicly and tumultuously in order to attain by force, intimidation, or by other means outside of legal methods, any of the following objects:
  1. To prevent the promulgation or execution of any law or the holding of any popular election;
  2. To prevent the National Government, or any provincial or municipal government or any public officer thereof from freely exercising its or his functions, or prevent the execution of any administrative order;
  3. To inflict any act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of any public officer or employee;
  4. To commit, for any political or social end, any act of hate or revenge against private persons or any social class; and
  5. To despoil, for any political or social end, any person, municipality or province, or the National Government (or the Government of the United States), of all its property or any part thereof.

"Inciting sedition" is defined as follows:

Art. 142. Inciting to sedition. - The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine not exceeding 2,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, without taking any direct part in the crime of sedition, should incite others to the accomplishment of any of the acts which constitute sedition, by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, cartoons, banners, or other representations tending to the same end, or upon any person or persons who shall utter seditious words or speeches, write, publish, or circulate scurrilous libels against the Government (of the United States or the Government of the Commonwealth) of the Philippines, or any of the duly constituted authorities thereof, or which tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office, or which tend to instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes, or which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots, or which lead or tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the Government, or who shall knowingly conceal such evil practices.

Yes, in the Philippines, "stirring up the people" against the government or "disturbing the peace of the community" by circulating "scurrilous libels" (lies - or even worse, truths) which cause them to dislike those in power is punishable by imprisonment. But then, is our own law, which bars bringing into hatred or contempt, or "exciting disaffection" against the government, really that different?

Either way, I think the layman's definition of sedition - "saying things the government doesn't want to hear" - holds in the Philippines.


What the hell is the US government in there for? I thought they were independent?

Posted by Bomber : 6/16/2005 01:31:00 AM

The law dates from the 30's. I think they were running the Philippines at the time.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/16/2005 02:04:00 AM

A fact Mr Roosevelt chose to ignore whenever he wanted to hassle Mr Churchill about imperialism. Most Americans still fondly imagine empires were a "European" thing.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/16/2005 04:37:00 AM