[PHOT0 -President Benigno Aquino III]
TJ Burgonio - President Benigno Aquino III said Friday the provision on libel in
the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act should stay but left it to lawmakers
to amend the provision on what penalty to impose on violators.
"On the libel provision, I don't agree that it should be removed. If you
write something libelous, you're liable. If you're a broadcaster and air it on
radio or TV, you're also liable. When it comes out in the Internet that's still
libelous. Whatever format it is, the person whose rights were impinged should
have redress,'' the President told reporters here following the mass oath-taking
of Liberal Party members.
"If the penalty is too high, then it should be amended,'' he added.
Pressed on the libel provision, Aquino said: "If you write something
libelous, you have a libel case, even civil offenses. If you broadcast the same
matter on TV or radio, that's still libelous. If it comes out in the Internet,
it's no longer libelous? If it's a different format, it shouldn't be libelous?''

Since it has been enacted, Mr. Aquino said, the Executive Department should
execute the law, and it was up to the Supreme Court to rule on its
constitutionality and Congress to amend it.
"If we don't implement it, I'm liable for dereliction of duty. I can be
impeached,'' he said.
Cybercrime law unconstitutional, says Santiago By
Norman Bordadora Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:09 am | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Liking and sharing libelous material on Facebook
and retweeting similarly defamatory content on Twitter would make a netizen
liable under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
(photo) warned on Saturday.
These are some of the punishable acts prescribed by the new law that makes
Republic Act No. 10175 violative of the constitutional provision on free speech,
said Santiago, a former trial court judge and magistrate-in-waiting to the
International Court of Justice.
In addition, the law's provisions are also "overbroad" and "vague," which
makes it unconstitutional, she said.
For these reasons, Santiago predicted the Supreme Court would strike down the
cybercrime law as unconstitutional.
"Otherwise, it will be a black, black day for freedom of speech," Santiago
said in a speech on Saturday before business and economics students at Adamson
For example, the senator said, Section 5 cites aiding and abetting
cybercrimes as one of the acts punishable under the new law. Ordinary Facebook
and Twitter activities such as liking, sharing and retweeting could make one
accountable under the law, she said.
"Simply repeating things, you made a comment, you liked, you shared, you're
already guilty, because you're aiding and abetting. You can interpret it that
way. That's why I'm saying it is too vague," Santiago told her audience.
Sen. Edgardo Angara, the sponsor and one of the authors of the bill in the
Senate, has sought to dismiss such fears by saying that mere liking in Facebook
doesn't make one an author of material deemed libelous.
As to sharing, Angara said, conspiracy between the author and the one that
shared should be established.
This is not something that's easy to do, he said.
According to Santiago, the constitutional provision on free speech "sounds
absolute" and thus, the cybercrime law begins with a "presumption of
The burden of proof is on those that support the law to prove that it is
constitutional, the senator said.
"[In] addition, the law is unconstitutional because it uses language that is
overbroad and too vague," she said.
She said the overbroad doctrine holds that if a law is broadly written, it
deters free expression.
She expects the Supreme Court to strike down the new law "because of its
chilling effect," such that "you almost don't want to use your computer for fear
of becoming liable".
According to Santiago, the vagueness doctrine refers to a law that provides a
punishment without specifying what conduct is punishable. "[Therefore], the law
is void because it violates due process," she said.
Santiago said the overbroad and vague provisions of the Cybercrime Act are
those on online libel, on aiding and abetting cybercrimes, on the adoption of
the whole Revised Penal Code with punishments that are a degree higher, on
making cybercrimes punishable also under the Penal Code, and on the authority of
the Department of Justice to take down violative websites.
Preventing cybercrime is a necessity, however, the senator said.
Cybercrime law constitutional - Enrile, De Lima By
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) Updated October 08, 2012 12:00 AMComments (0)

MANILA, Philippines - There is nothing unconstitutional in Republic Act 10175
or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima maintained
De Lima said all the legal questions raised by critics could be addressed in
the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to be crafted with stakeholders.

De Lima said she had reviewed the law and "can't see any unconstitutional
provision" in it.
"Some sectors have questioned libel provision but we should remember that it
is already a criminal offense under existing law. The only issue is the
propriety or imposition of higher degree of penalty, which is not a
constitutional issue," she explained.
While she agreed with critics there are vague provisions in the law, De Lima
said they could be clarified in the IRR.
De Lima dispelled fears the constitutional rights of citizens in cyberspace
would be violated in the implementation of the new law.
She reiterated the law would be implemented "gradually and very prudently"
pending creation of the IRR and enforcers would focus first on palpable
cybercrimes like hacking and other syndicated crimes for the meantime.
President Aquino earlier stood by the questioned provisions in the law, but
reportedly agreed to lower the penalty imposed on such crime in the new law.

Still, many sectors questioned the new law with 11 groups filing petitions
before the Supreme Court seeking to stop its implementation for alleged
violation of fundamental rights.
Lawmakers who earlier approved the law had already initiated amendments of
questioned provisions.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she expected the high court to declare the
provisions unconstitutional for their vagueness.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Santiago apparently failed to look
into the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act when the bill was
still being deliberated in Congress early this year.
Enrile admitted he may have been absent when the now controversial law was
passed by the Senate, tossing blame to his fellow senators who failed to examine
the provisions of the new law that several sectors find unconstitutional and
tamper with freedom of speech.
"That law was born out of the discussions in the Senate. That law came from
our deliberations. Why did Miriam, who is considered a constitutionalist, not
even question its legality?" Enrile said in a radio interview yesterday.
Enrile made the remark in reaction to Santiago's statement that the new law
may be struck down by the SC due to constitutional issues.
"She could have seen it. She was the expert in constitutional law, I am not
saying that I am expert on that but the point is, she could have raised that
question when it was being crafted into a law, " Enrile said.
Enrile admitted possible lapses of the Senate to scrutinize the law and its
provisions. He noted several sectors raised a howl over the inclusion of a
higher penalty for libel in the Cybercrime Prevention Act, compared to the
Revised Penal Code on the same offense.
"I was absent at that time when the law was deliberated... I was focused on
other pressing things... the minority was there and they should have questioned
the majority over this," he said.
Enrile pointed out also that no law is perfect, and that there is nothing
wrong if any law is declared unconstitutional.
"A law is not a perfect document, it is done by human beings," he said.
Enrile said there are many cases in the past here and abroad when the high
tribunal declares some laws were not aligned with the provisions in the
Enrile however defended the administration's move to pursue the
implementation of the law despite the massive outcry.
With the recent attacks and hate campaign waged by "faceless" users in social
networking sites, Enrile sees more reason why the new cybercrime law should be
Enrile said the hacking attacks should give the government more reason to
implement the law.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño added the cybercrime law also covers sending of
malicious text messages.
"Based on Section 3(c) of the law, communication covered refers to the
transmission of information through ICT (information and communications
technology) media, including voice, video and other forms of data," Casiño said.

"Section 3(d) meanwhile defines computers and computer system covered as any
type of computer device, including devices with data processing capabilities
like mobile phones, smart phones, computer networks and other devices connected
to the Internet," he added.
Casiño pointed out that Section 6 broadens the law's coverage to include "all
crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special
laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and
communications technologies."
"This practically means that communications and data on any type of phone or
ICT device are covered by this very repressive law. If I text my friends that a
certain candidate is a 'cheap, second-rate, trying hard copycat,' that person
can haul me to court and charge me with libel under the Anti-Cybercrime Law and
have me locked up for 10 years," he stressed.
Casiño said the mere possibility that one can be charged with online libel is
enough to silence ordinary people and stop them from expressing critical ideas
on the Internet and modern communications devices.
Casiño's Bayan Muna colleague Neri Colmenares said the objectionable and
controversial provisions of the law were inserted by the Senate and approved by
the bicameral conference committee, whose report was in turn ratified by the
Senate and the House.
"The cybercrime bill approved by the House did not contain the questionable
provisions found in the Senate version and the law. The House version did not
contain the 'electronic libel' provision found in Section 4 (c) 4... There was
no mention at all of the DOJ's (Department of Justice) 'blocking access' power
found in Section 19 of the law," he said.
"Section 4 (b) 4 (cc) of the House bill did not contain the phrase 'provided
that the penalty to be imposed shall be one degree higher than that provided by
the Revised Penal Code, and Special Laws.' "While Section 9 of the House version
allowed 'real time collection of computer data,' it requires the need to 'secure
a court warrant.' The Senate version, found in Section 12 of the law, deleted
this very important warrant requirement," he said.
Sen. Edgardo Angara is the principal author of the Senate version of the
anti-cybercrime bill, which the committee on justice, chaired by Sen. Francis
Escudero, endorsed.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III had introduced the provision against Internet libel.

Escudero has admitted that the measure he endorsed had some defects.
Colmenares renewed his call for transparency in the proceedings of the
bicameral committee, often called as the third chamber of Congress.
"The recent outrage over insertions in the cybercrime law shows that there is
a need for the bicameral committee hearings, including those on the budget, to
be transparent. Its scheduled meetings should be published and opened to the
public. The media should be allowed to cover these meetings and given access to
the minutes of proceedings," he said.
De Lima, on the other hand, stressed concerns on questioned provisions could
be addressed in the IRR to be drafted by the DOJ with the Department of the
Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Science and Technology
She stressed that inputs from stakeholders on these issues would be gathered
anyway during the multi-sectoral forum set for tomorrow at the DOJ main office
in Manila.
"The purpose of this gathering is for concerned parties to ask for
clarifications and suggest how the law can be made effective to address the
problem of cybercrime," De Lima explained.
House committee on information and communications technology chairman and
Taguig City Rep. Sigfrido Tinga will open the forum with officials of DOST's
Information and Communications Technology sitting in the panel.
Agencies under the DOJ like the National Bureau of Investigation, National
Prosecution Service and Public Attorney's Office will also join the forum.
Those expected to participate in the forum include the Internet Society -
Philippines chapter, PH Net Foundation, UP College of Law, La Salle Institute of
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.
The forum will have a live webcast at
A total of 11 petitions seeking to stop implementation of the anti-cybercrime
law had been filed earlier before the high court.
The petitioners include businessman Louis Biraogo; a group of journalists
belonging to Alab ng Mamahayag (ALAM); a group of bloggers and Internet law
experts led by lawyer Jose Jesus Disini Jr. of the Internet and society program
of UP College of Law; Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona; another group of journalists,
bloggers and lawyers led by UP law professor Harry Roque Jr.; a group of
lawmakers, members of academe and students led by Kabataan party-list Rep.
Raymond Palatino; militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN);
Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC); journalists led by the National Union of
Journalists of the Philippines; a group of bloggers led by Anthony Ian Cruz, and
the Philippine Bar Association.
The high court is set to tackle these petitions in their regular session
tomorrow. -Christina Mendez, Jess Diaz

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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