Ateneo group backs 8th petition vs anti-cybercrime law

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2012 01:43 PM | Updated as of Oct 03 2012 09:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - An 8th petition against Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act, was filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday morning by faculty members of the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) College of Law and, at the same time, members of the Ateneo Human Rights Center.

In a 40-page petition for certiorari, ADMU College of Law Dean Sedfrey Candelaria, and Attys. Mel Sta. Maria, Amparita Sta. Maria, Gilbert Sembrano, and Ryan Jeremiah Quan assailed Sections 4(4), 5, 6, 7 and 19 of the law for being "patently unconstitutional," and urged the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the implementation of the questioned provisions. 

"All of the above provisions, taken singularly and together, are unconstitutional, as they transgress... provisions of the Bill of Rights in Art. III of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines," the petition read.

Sec. 4(4) of RA No. 10175 criminalizes libel on cyberspace; Sec. 5 lists "aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime" and "attempt in the commission of cybercrime" as additional offenses; Sec. 6 raises by one degree higher the penalties provided for by the Revised Penal Code for all crimes committed through and with the use of information and communications; Sec. 7 provides that, apart from prosecution under the law, any person charged for the alleged offense covered will not be spared from violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws; and Sec. 19 authorizes the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) to block access to computer data when such data "is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act."

Petitioners said the questioned provisions transgress Sections 1 (on right to life, liberty, property, equal protection of laws), 2 (right against unreasonable searches and seizures), 3(1) (inviolability of the privacy of communication and correspondence), 4 (freedom of speech, of expression, of the press), and 21 (double jeopardy doctrine) of the 1987 Constitution.

"This is a case of transcendental importance, a first of its kind in our history. This will herald the entry of this Honorable Supreme Court into a world of cyber communication that is perpetually active, global and free... As the assailed law will immediately impact on the rights of every Filipino on the internet -- ourselves, our spouses, our children, our parents, our employes, our workers, our traders, our teachers and students -- there is urgency in this petition.

"At the same time, there is urgent need, as well as wisdom, to understanding how the internet is expanding and evolving our very concepts of free expression," the petition read.

For a more thorough discussion of their petition, petitioners urged the high court to set oral arguments on the case.

The other 7 petitions against RA No. 10175 were filed by Louis Biraogo, Disini, et al., ALAM party list, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Adonis, et al., Rep. Palatino, et al., and Bayan et al.