House bill on cybercrime had no Internet libel clause

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNNews.com

Posted at Oct 03 2012 08:24 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2012 04:38 PM

MANILA - Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap, one of the primary authors of the lower House version of the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012, said on Wednesday that she did not see the final version of the proposed legislation that was submitted to President Aquino.

Yap told radio dzMM that House Bill 5808 had no Internet libel clause and did not authorize the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shut down websites without any court order.

"Honestly, nung (mag-bicameral commitee meeting) kami, iyung lumabas na version, hindi ko nakita iyung ipinasa sa Malacañang. Hindi ko na nakita," she said.

"Meron akong directive to get the minutes of the meeting at what process kung bakit nagkaganoon," she added.

Yap said HB 5808, which focused on cybersex, pornography, identity theft, hacking, and forgery, had no libel provision. "Wala po. Iyung na-transmit po ng House sa Senate po ay hindi kasama ang online libel."

She said the online libel issue was debated in the lower House.

"Matagal po namin pinag-usapan both in the committee, plenaryo po, matagal po namin. Mahabang debate po iyan," she said.

However, the situation changed when the proposed legislation reached the bicameral committee.

"Sa version ng Senate po, meron na po silang libel na naisama," she said.

The bicameral committee used the Senate version authored by Senator Edgardo Angara that included the libel and take-down provisions.

It was the version submitted to Aquino.

Yap said she is wondering why the take-down clause found its way into the final version. "Iyon nga ang ipinagtataka natin."

With regard to Internet libel, Yap said the bicameral committee raised the issue found in the Angara version.

"Nagkaroon ng lengthy debate din po diyan. Ang wisdom naman ng Senate, ang libel na dinidiscuss, those covered under our Revised Penal Code din," she said.

Yap, however, could not explain why Internet libel was given a tougher penalty compared to print libel.

"Mas mabigat ang mga ipinataw na parusa based doon sa mga unang sinabi ko po (cybersex, pornography, identity theft, hacking, and forgery). Naisama na lang iyung libel po," she said.

"Normally po, para less ang confusion, isa na lang po ang ipinapataw (penalty) under cybercrime," she added.

"It was raised and discussed. Pagkatapos naman pag-usapan, parang ok na, existing na rin (libel) sa ating batas (Revised Penal Code)," Yap said.

She said lawmakers will reassess the higher penalty provision for online libel and the extensive authority given to law enforcers and the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Republic Act 10175.

"That is something that we have to review," she said. "I-dedetail po sana sa implementing rules and regulations. We're leaving it to the experts to do the detail in the regulations. Doon na ire-refine."

"We can amend the law," Yap said. "We can propose amendments already."