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SC seen to uphold cybercrime law provisions

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Justices of the Supreme Court (SC) are expected to declare that Internet libel is constitutional when they rule today on 15 consolidated petitions assailing Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

An SC member revealed that they have started voting on the legality of each of the questioned sections of RA 10175 in their session last week.

An SC insider said the justices voted 12-1-2 to declare constitutional Section 4 (c) (4) covering Internet libel.

The justices also declared constitutional key sections involving illegal access, data interference, cybersquatting, computer-related identity theft, cybersex, child pornography and search and seizure of computer data.

Justices voted 11-2-2 to declare unconstitutional Section 4 (c) (3) penalizing unsolicited commercial communication. 

They also voided Section 5 covering aiding and abetting cyber crimes. 

The insider said justices have yet to decide on Sections 7 and 12.

Contrary to a newspaper report yesterday, the high court has also not yet decided on the constitutionality of Section 19 empowering the Department of Justice (DOJ) to close down websites for violations of the law.

Spokesman Theodore Te said the 15 consolidated petitions have been included in the SC’s agenda today. The justices heard the pros and cons during oral arguments in January last year. 

Voting last week, justices voted on 11 assailed sections and five sub-sections of the law, the insider said.

Most of the questioned sections were declared constitutional, according to the source who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter.

In October 2012, the assailed law was supposed to take effect, but the SC stopped its implementation through a 120-day temporary restraining order extended for an indefinite period in February last year.

Filing the petitions were 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, the National Press Club of the Philippines, officer of the Philippine Bar Association, businessman Louis Biraogo, a group of journalists belonging to Alab ng Mamahayag (ALAM), Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, a group of lawmakers, members of academe and students led by Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino, militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), a group of bloggers led by Anthony Ian Cruz, and Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casio.     

In their petitions, they alleged that that the law signed by President Aquino in September 2012 violated the people’s rights to freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication.

The law also violated constitutional sanctions against double jeopardy, undue delegation of legislative authority and right against unreasonable searches and seizure, they added.

ANTHONY IAN CRUZ

ATENEO HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER

BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN

BAYAN MUNA REPRESENTATIVES NERI COLMENARES AND TEDDY CASIO

COLLEGE OF LAW

CYBERCRIME PREVENTION ACT

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

HARRY ROQUE JR.

IN OCTOBER

JOSE JESUS DISINI OF THE INTERNET

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