Libel or harmless rant? Netizens debate Yeng Constantino’s cybercrime charge
MANILA, Philippines – Where do you draw the line with cyber libel?
A Surigao del Norte court recently issued a warrant of arrest for singer Yeng Constantino, charging her of violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act for a vlog she posted last year.
In July 2019, Yeng ranted about what she felt were the poor medical services her husband Yan Asuncion received after he suffered from a cliff-diving accident in Siargao’s Sugba Lagoon. She criticized Dr. Esterlina Tan for not urgently attending to her husband, and for not updating her on her husband’s condition. Yeng also repeatedly mentioned Tan’s name, and flashed a photo of her in her vlog.
Yeng shortly came under fire on social media after releasing her vlog, as netizens accused her of “doctor shaming.” The vlog has since been deleted and Yeng apologized to Tan and the hospital’s other medical staff.
An arrest order was issued on December 12, 2019, and was later forwarded to the Quezon City Police chief. The order stated Yeng violated Sec 4 (c)(4) of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which defines cyber libel as anything that falls under the “unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code” committed through a computer system or any similar means.
The Revised Penal Code defines libel as a “public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance”, which intends to “dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person.”
Yeng’s cyber libel charge elicited mixed responses from many Filipinos online. Some netizens agreed with the regional trial court’s decision, and believed issuing the warrant was a just response to the singer’s vlog.
However, a handful of netizens felt the libel charge was unnecessary, as they believed Yeng was entitled to her own opinion and to complain about the poor service.
Other netizens felt Yeng shouldn’t have taken her thoughts to social media, and should have dealt with the issue at hand through more proper channels.
Additionally, a few Filipinos also deemed the charge unnecessary because the vlog has since been deleted and Yeng has already publicly apologized.
And of course, a number of netizens couldn’t resist responding to her charge with a number of memes and song references.
What are your thoughts on Yeng’s cyber libel charge? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com