Anti-mining advocate arrested in Philippines over Facebook posting

A 62 year-old anti-mining activist was arrested in the Philippines for promoting, via Facebook,  an upcoming demonstration opposing magnetite mining in her hometown back in 2011.

Agents of the National Bureau of Intelligence arrested Esperlita Garcia on October 19 and detained her overnight. Garcia was released on bail the next day, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

But the former teacher’s arrest, reports Global Voices, has spawned fears of a clampdown on dissension through the recently enacted anti-cybercrime legislation.

This new anti-cybercrime law drew widespread opposition from online journalists for its oppressive libel provisions.  The law was recently restrained from implementation by the Supreme Court in response to petitions by concerned groups demanding a review of the criminal libel provisions.

Garcia has expressed concern over the legality of her warrant of arrest, as the government hasn’t implemented the law that punishes online libel yet.

Her arrest was the second case of alleged online libel to emerge in the Philippines this year.  16 nurses were fired back in August for having “liked” a Facebook page criticising the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital.

The Philippines criminalized libel during the country’s U.S. occupation in the early part of the twentieth century to intimidate anti-colonial opposition.

The new law is extending the range of the law to electronic communications and webpages.

Environmentalists and Internet freedom advocates have setup the “Cyber-Perling” Facebook page to draw attention to Garcia's plight. The page had gathered over 1,200 likes when this article was published.