MANILA - The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) accused Malacañang of "drawing attention from the Supreme Court (SC)" and "deceiving the people" with the setting of a multi-sectoral dialogue on Oct. 9 between the DOJ and stakeholders on Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
In a statement issued by its secretary-general, Renato Reyes, Jr., Bayan said the dialogue was ill-timed since it coincided with the high court's regular Tuesday en banc session. Petitions against the controversial law are set to be discussed in next week's session, including petitioners' application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction to restrain government from implementing assailed provisions of the law which petitioners want declared unconstitutional.
"We find it very strange that Malacanang would set a dialogue between the DOJ and critics of the Cybercrime Law on Oct. 9, the same day the SC is expected to decide on the TRO vs. the new law. Wala na bang ibang petsa, DOJ? As petitioners in the case, we're concerned that Malacanang is trying to draw attention away from the SC and lure the critics into accepting the IRR of the new law," Bayan said.
At least 10 separate petitions have been filed with the high court questioning the following provisions:
-- Sec. 4(c)(4), which criminalizes libel on cyberspace;
-- Sec. 5(a), which lists "aiding or abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime" as an additional offense under the law;
-- Sec. 6, which 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, which 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;
-- Sec. 12, which authorizes law enforcement authorities to collect or record, by technical or electronic means, traffic data in real-time; -
-- Sec. 14, which authorizes law enforcement authorities, armed with a court warrant, to require "any person or service provider to disclose or submit subscriber's information, traffic data or relevant data in his/its possession or control within 72 hours from receipt of the order in relation to a valid complaint officially docketed and assigned for investigation;"
-- Sec. 15, which authorizes law enforcement authorities to search, seize and examine computer data;
-- Sec. 19, which 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;"
-- Sec. 20, which states that those who fail to comply with provisions of the law's Chapter IV (Enforcement and Implementation), specifically orders from law enforcement agencies, shall face imprisonment of prision correctional (6 months and 1 day to 6 years) in its maximum period or a fine of P100,000 or both, for each noncompliance;
-- Sec. 24, which creates, beginning effectivity of the law on Oct. 3, an inter-agency body under the Office of the President (OP) to be known as the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) for "policy coordination" and "formulation and enforcement of the national cybersecurity plan;"
-- Sec. 26(a), which details the powers and functions of the CICC;
-- Sec. 28, which provides for the crafting of the law's Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) by the Dept. of Science and Technology (DOST), DOJ, and the Dept. of Interior and Local Govt. (DILG); and
-- Sec. 29, pertaining to the separability clause which shields provisions of the law not rendered invalid from any declaration of invalidity by a competent court.
Echoing the words of constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Bayan said "[t]he IRR cannot cure the infirmities of the law."
In his recent Philippine Daily Inquirer column, Bernas said, "It will not do to say that whatever shortcomings there are in RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act) will be remedied by its IRR (implementing rules and regulations). Rules and regulations cannot cure defects in a law."
Bayan said "any dialogue with the DOJ at this point would be within the framework of the oppressive provisions of the law," adding, "The Palace is trying desperately to deceive the people."
'Forum will clarify provisions being opposed''
During the dialogue/forum on Oct. 9, the DOJ and the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Dept. of Science and Technology (DOST) assured stakeholders that aside from presenting and discussing key provisions of the law, they will also "listen to inputs and insights for the IRR."
Justice Sec. Leila De Lima said the forum is intended "for concerned parties to ask for clarifications and to suggest how the law can be made effective to address the problem of cybercrime."
"There is no doubt that the State needs to protect the internet from unscrupulous individuals and organized crime groups," De Lima said.
Those expected to be present during the forum are the following:
- Internet Society (Philippines Chapter);
- University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law;
- La Salle Institute for Governance;
- Foundation for Media Alternatives;
- Globe Telecommunications;
- Imperium Technologies;
- Philippine Software Industry Association;
- Business Processing Association of the Philippines;
- Philippine Computer Emergency Response Team;
- IdeaCorp Philippines;
- National Security Council;
- National Defense College of the Philippines; and
- Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines.
Representatives from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), DOJ National Prosecution Service (NPS), Public Attorney's Office (PAO), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) will also be present.
Rep. Sigfrido Tinga, chairman of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology, and ICT Office executive director, Undersecretary Louis Napoleon Casambre, are expected to give brief remarks. A review of the legislative history of the law will be done by Damian Domingo Mapa, former Commissioner of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT).
The DOJ said only pre-registered participants will be allowed inside the DOJ Multi-purpose Hall, the venue for the event, due to limited space.
A live webcast of the proceedings will be made available on www.doj.gov.ph.