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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Vetoed

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Vetoed

In a much belated epiphany, Malacañang has expressed concern about “dangerous state intrusion and surveillance” that threaten “many constitutionally protected rights.”

This was the explanation given by the acting Palace mouthpiece for President Duterte’s veto of the law passed by Congress, mandating the registration of SIM cards and social media accounts. The law was passed by both chambers to fight online scammers, trolls and fake news, with lawmakers themselves among the targets of hate messages, lies, disinformation and smear campaigns.

Not surprisingly, such attacks have intensified in this campaign season. Lawmakers have been divided on the issue, with some calling for a congressional override of the presidential veto. Others have noted that the enrolled bill should have stuck with the registration merely of SIM cards instead of including social media accounts.

Lawmakers aligned with groups that thrive in the protection of anonymity have lauded the veto. For some sectors, on the other hand, it reinforced suspicions that Malacañang’s information machinery itself and certain political camps are behind extensive troll farms that have been deployed against administration critics, and have been hard at work particularly in this election season.

A congressional override will require the nod of  two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives voting separately: 203 congressmen and 16 senators. Whether lawmakers will have time for this in the heat of the campaign remains to be seen.

Failing in this, the task of fighting trolls, fake news and online scams will be left to the next Congress and the new administration. Being the targets themselves of trolling and fake news, perhaps legislators will give priority to the regulation of these activities and fine-tuning the law.

CONGRESS

PRESIDENT DUTERTE

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