SC expected to rule on cybercrime law today

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 14 2014 12:33 AM | Updated as of Jan 14 2014 08:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) is expected to rule Tuesday on the legality of the controversial Republic Act No. 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Law when justices resume session after almost a month's recess.

The case involving 15 consolidated petitions, which were heard by the high court in oral arguments in January last year, has been included in the court’s agenda, a source said.

The source, a member of the SC, also revealed that a draft ruling of the justice-in-charge had already circulated during the holiday break.

The law was supposed to have taken effect in October 2012 but its implementation was stopped by the SC via a 120-day temporary restraining order that was extended indefinitely in February last year.

The petitions were filed by 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, an officer of the Philippine Bar Association, businessman Louis Biraogo; journalists belonging to the 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 Representatives Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño.

They argued 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.

They alleged that the new law also violated constitutional sanctions against double jeopardy, undue delegation of legislative authority and right against unreasonable searches and seizure.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza has conceded that Section 19 of RA 10175, which authorizes the Department of Justice to block or restrict access to computer data without a court warrant, is unconstitutional.

Petitioners also questioned constitutionality of the online libel provision in Section 4 (c) of the law.

Roque’s group had filed an amended petition asking the high court to strike down all sections on libel in the Revised Penal Code (RPC), from where the provision was based.

Apart from this case, the high tribunal is also expected to rule today on a petition of former chief justice Renato Corona seeking to collect retirement benefits following his ouster from office in May 2012.

Corona filed a petition seeking benefits for his 10-year service in the judiciary and two years in the executive department, but had denied reports the amount could reach P50 million.

His petition has been submitted for resolution of the high court and a draft resolution circulated last month for deliberation of the justices.