MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional several provisions in Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which criminalizes online libel.
In his petition, Guingona said the new law makes a “fatal step backwards” due to its overly vague and oppressive provisions on libel.
“Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually, any person can now be charged with a crime –even if you just like, retweet or comment on an online update or blog post containing criticisms,” he said.
The senator’s petition is the fourth to be filed before the SC against the new cybercrime law. The earlier petitions urged the Court to strike down several provisions of RA Act 10175, particularly on online libel, the authority given to the Department of Justice to block websites even without a court review, and the warrantless monitoring of electronic data.
In his petition, Guingona said the new law imposes stricter penalties to online libel than what is prescribed in the Revised Penal Code. He said punishment for traditional print media libel is up to 4 years and 2 months while online libel is punishable by 12-year imprisonment period.
He warned that the law “demonizes technology and sends the message that the computer user is more evil than those who write on traditional media.”
Guingona also noted that any person who writes something online that is deemed libelous can be prosecuted under the Revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act. He said this goes against the 1987 Constitution, which protects people against double jeopardy.