SC urged to strike down all libel provisions in penal code

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2013 06:37 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2013 06:21 AM

MANILA - One of the 15 petitioners against the Cybercrime Prevention Law amended their petition and is now practically asking the Supreme Court (SC) to strike down all provisions in the Revised Penal Code on libel and decriminalize it.

Alexander Adonis, et al. stood pat on their plea for the nullification of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, and urged the high court to strike down the following provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Code:

Article 355. Libel means by writings or similar means. – A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.

Art. 353. Definition of libel. — A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

Article. 354. Requirement for publicity. — Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases:

1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or social duty; and,

2. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial, legislative or other official proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of any statement, report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.

Article 361. Proof of the truth. — In every criminal prosecution for libel, the truth may be given in evidence to the court and if it appears that the matter charged as libelous is true, and, moreover, that it was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the defendants shall be acquitted.

Article 362. Libelous remarks. — Libelous remarks or comments connected with the matter privileged under the provisions of article 354, if made with malice, shall not exempt the author thereof nor the editor or managing editor of a newspaper from criminal liability.

The petition stated that the challenged provisions are "incompatible with freedom of expression."

The petition also pointed out that the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nations Human Rights Committee share this same view.

"Upon due hearing, the instant Petition be GRANTED, (a) declaring Article 355,AS WELL AS ARTICLES 353, 354, 361, AND 362, of Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code to be unconstitutional (b) declaring R.A. 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, to be unconstitutional for infringing against Constitutionally-protected fundamental rights of citizens – that is, of journalists and their audience alike, and (c) permanently prohibiting Respondents the Executive Secretary, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, and the Information and Communications Technology Office-Department of Science and Technology from implementing the same law," the petition read.