SC urged to decriminalize libel

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 29 2012 07:58 AM | Updated as of Dec 30 2012 02:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A group of journalists and lawyers filed on Thursday a petition asking the Supreme Court (SC) to declare unconstitutional the libel provision under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The same group led by UP law professor Harry Roque Jr. and journalist Ellen Tordesillas was among those who earlier filed a petition questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

In their amended petition, the group asked the SC to nullify Article 355 of the RPC penalizing libel for allegedly running against the fundamental rights to free expression, speech and press.

Petitioners raised the same arguments in questioning the constitutionality of the online libel provision in RA 10175, which they explained is only an expansion of the coverage of libel in the RPC.

The group also cited how the libel provision in the 82-year-old RPC has been abused by some personalities, including government officials, to harass journalists.
But since the high court is on holiday recess until Jan. 9, the justices are expected to tackle the new pleading when they resume session on Jan. 15, the same day an oral argument will be held on the case.

A total of 15 petitions had been filed with the high court against the new anti-cybercrime law signed by President Aquino last Sept. 12.