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Philippine leader defends hot-button 'cyber libel' law

MANILA -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday defended a controversial cybercrime law penalizing online libel, a day after the top court upheld its legality in a setback for campaigners who argue it could curb Internet freedom.

The Cybercrime Protection Act was passed in 2012 to stamp out online scourges such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography, but its implementation was suspended after coming under challenge from various groups.

However the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that one of its most controversial provisions, the section which penalizes cyber libel, “is not unconstitutional.”

Aquino defended the ruling, saying the law would not be used to stifle dissent in the Philippines, considered to be one of Asia's most freewheeling democracies.

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