DOJ working to drop online libel from cyber law
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing for amendments to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, including dropping the provision on online libel, and is working on an “enhanced” version of the controversial law ahead of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on its legality.

“We will be proposing certain improvements on the Cybercrime Prevention Act, but of course we need to wait for the action of the SC on the pending petition,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters at the opening of the 3rd Regional Cybercrime Conference in Manila yesterday. “Whatever will happen in the case in SC, we are
contemplating on introducing or proposing to Congress certain enhancements,” she said. Among the proposed amendments is the removal of the provision on online libel, Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, head of the DOJ cybercrime office, said. Sy said the DOJ would also take out the provisions on child pornography and cybersquatting “because these are punishable under other laws already.”

He added that the provision that sets penalties higher than those provided under the Revised Penal Code should also be taken out. “There is no perfect law, so we continue to repeat, reiterate until we get it right,” he said.

De Lima said the DOJ would also consider clarifying the “take down” clause in the implementing rules and regulations, which empowers the department to close down a website or intercept data.

She admitted the use of the term “take down” was “shocking.” 

She said the DOJ would submit its proposed amendments when the incoming 16th regular session of Congress convenes.

The SC issued a 120-day temporary restraining order stopping the implementation of the law in October last year and extended the TRO indefinitely when it lapsed last February.

At least 15 groups questioned the constitutionality of RA 10175 before the high court.

They are UP law professor Harry Roque Jr., National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, lawyer Jose Jesus Disini of the Internet and society program of UP College of Law, a group of lawyers led by Paul Cornelius Castillo, National Press Club of the Philippines, an officer of the Philippine Bar Association, businessman Louis Biraogo, a group of journalists belonging to Alab ng Mamahayag, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, a group of lawmakers, members of academe and students led by Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Ateneo Human Rights Center, a group of bloggers led by Anthony Ian Cruz and Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño.     

In his oral argument last January, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza conceded that Section 19 of the law, which authorizes the DOJ to block or restrict access to computer data without a court warrant, was unconstitutional.  

ANTHONY IAN CRUZ AND BAYAN MUNA REPS ASSISTANT SECRETARY GERONIMO SY ATENEO HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN COLLEGE OF LAW CYBERCRIME PREVENTION ACT DE LIMA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE HARRY ROQUE JR.
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