SC tackles cybercrime law cases today

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 05 2013 07:39 AM | Updated as of Feb 05 2013 03:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) is set to tackle legal challenges to the Cybercrime Prevention Act today, the eve of the expiration of its 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of Republic Act 10175.

The 15 consolidated petitions, which were heard by the high court in oral arguments last month, have been included in the agenda of the regular full-court session of justices.

The justices, according to an insider, are set to decide whether or not to grant the petitioners’ request to extend the TRO.

One of the petitioners, UP law professor Harry Roque Jr., explained that the extension was needed to prevent the implementation of questionable provisions of the controversial law.

In open hearing last Jan. 29, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno vowed to resolve the motion for extension of the TRO “at the proper time.”

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

During interpellation of justices, he was also made to admit that Section 12 of the law is “hardly constitutional.”

Jardeleza, who represents the executive and legislative branches of government in this case, confirmed that mere clicking “like,” “share” or “retweet” on libelous posts on Facebook and Twitter may hold a netizen criminally liable under the law.

Apart from these two provisions, petitioners also questioned the constitutionality of the online libel provision in Section 4 (c) of the law.

Roque’s group filed an amended petition last week, asking the high court to also strike down all sections on libel in the Revised Penal Code (RPC), on which this provision was based.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño called on the online community to prepare to stage “digital civil disobedience” should the SC fail to extend the TRO today.– With Paolo Romero