National Artist signs 7th petition vs Cybercrime Law

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2012 05:27 PM | Updated as of Oct 02 2012 07:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A 7th petition was filed with the Supreme Court (SC) against several provisions of controversial Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act) on Monday afternoon, urging the high court to strike them down as unconstitutional.

The 30-page petition assailed Sections 4(a)(3), 4(b)(3), 4(c)(4), 5(a)(b), 6, 7, 12, 17, 19, and 20 of the law for being violative of the freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to privacy, and other fundamental freedoms.

The petitioners include National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, chairperson of Concerned Artists of the Philippines; Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr.; Elmer Labog, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general; Ferdinand Gaite, Courage chairperson; Joel Maglunsod, Anakpawis party-list; Lana Linaban, Gabriela Women's Party secretary general; Adolfo Ares Gutierrez, netizen, journalist, and copy editor for print and web media; and Julius Garcia Matibag, netizen and human rights lawyer.

Petitioners described their case as "a very strong assertion for the protection and defense of the most basic rights of the people upon which the fabric of a supposed republican and democratic state, such as ours, is founded-the freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to privacy, and other fundamental freedoms of the people."

Under Sec. 4 (a)(3), data interference, defined as "the intentional or reckless alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of computer data, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right, including the introduction or transmission of viruses," is included in the list of cybercrime offenses.  

Sec. 4(b)(3) lists computer-related identity theft as one of computer-related offenses. This offense is defined as the "intentional acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of identifying information belonging to another, whether natural or juridical, without right."

Sec. 4(c)(4) criminalizes libel, not only on the internet, but also on "any other similar means which may be devised in the future."

Sec. 5(a)(b) identifies other offenses punishable under the law: (a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime; and (b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime.

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.

Sec. 12 authorizes the real-time collection of traffic data.

Sec. 17 authorizes service providers and law enforcement agencies to "completely destroy the computer data subject of a preservation and examination" order.

Sec. 19 authorizes the DOJ to block access to computer data when such data "is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act."

Finally, Sec. 20 states that those who fail to comply with provisions of 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.

Unconstitutional powers

Petitioners alleged that the assailed law "grants unconstitutional and immense powers" to respondents Pres. Aquino, Exec. Sec. Paquito Ochoa, Congress, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima, Exec. Dir. Louis Napoleon Casambre of the information and Communications Technology Office, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Dir. Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, Police chief Nicanor Bartolome, and Interior Sec. Mar Roxas that that are even greater under martial law.

"Any citizen of the Republic, from a poor peasant to an ordinary student, a simple housewife to an online blogger or journalist, anyone that is a social media (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) user, an average worker to a politician, judge or even the Honorable Justices of the Honorable Court (SC), as long as they are using mobile phones, computers, computer data storage devises (e.g. USB, external hard disks), emails, social media and anything that is related to the internet, cyberspace and information and communications technology, is a marked target of RA 10175," petitioners argued.

Petitioners urged the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction against respondents to prevent them from implementing the assailed provisions.

The law's effectivity begins on Tuesday, Oct. 2, just when the high court is set to begin to tackle all 7 petitions against the statute. Netizens are also expected to troop to the SC on the same day to hold a picket against the controversial law.

The other petitioners against RA No. 10175 include taxpayer Louis Biraogo, ALAM party list, Disini, et al., Adonis, et al., Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, and Palatino, et al.

President Aquino signed the law last Sept. 12.