MANILA, Philippines - Republic Act 10175 or the 2012 Cybercrime Prevention Act is constitutional, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has told the Supreme Court.
Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, in a 173-page reply to petitions filed by 15 groups questioning the controversial law, said RA 10175 does not go against constitutionally-protected rights to free speech, privacy, and due process.
He said the law is focused on cracking down on cybercrimes such as hacking and is not designed to violate civil rights.
"The constitutional right to privacy does not extend to traffic data. Real-time collection of traffic data is akin to the collection of information derived from visual surveillance of an open physical space," the OSG's comment said.
The OSG added that traffic data is not private data because it is "shared with a service provider who is a third party."
"As such, it does not intrude into 'private' space, and thus its retrieval does not call for the constitutional requirement of a prior judicial warrant," read the pleading.
Jardeleza also denied that the law violates a person's right against being being sued and penalized for the same offense.
"It is not a constitutional prohibition against laws that may present possible prosecution for an offense penalized under other laws or statutes," he claimed.
He also defended the law's internet libel clause, which may send people to prison for up to 12 years.
"Libel is unprotected speech. It remains to be a crime in many nations," he said.
The OSG urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the petitions filed against RA 10175 and lift its temporary restraining order on the law.
The OSG added that some groups who filed petitions do not have legal standing in the case because they are not allegedly directly affected.
The petitioners include:
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines;
lawyer Jose Jesus Disini of the UP College of Law;
lawyer Paul Cornelius Castillo;
National Press Club of the Philippines;
Philippine Bar Association;
businessman Louis Biraogo;
Alab ng Mamahayag;
Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona;
journalists, bloggers and lawyers led by UP law professor Harry Roque Jr.;
lawmakers, members of the academe and students led by Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino;
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan;
Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC);
bloggers led by Anthony Ian Cruz; and,
Bayan Muna lawmakers Neri Colminares and Teddy Casino.
Oral arguments on the case are scheduled to begin on January 15 next year.