Lawyer asks SC to nullify parts of Cybercrime Act

Purple S. Romero

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It's the third petition questioning the constitutionality of parts of the Cybercrime Prevention Act

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers and writers asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday, September 26 to invalidate parts of the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act that “restrict the fundamental rights to free speech and freedom of speech…through unrestricted and unregulated censorship.”

Jose Jesus Disini, a technology law expert who drafted the implementing rules and regulations for the E-Commerce Act, filed the petition with the High Court along with fellow lawyers Rowena Disini, Lianne Ivy Medina, publisher Janette Toral and blogger Ernesto Sonido Jr. 

This is the third petition to be filed against Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on Sept.12. Businessman Louis Biraogo and the partylist group Alab ng Mamamahayag previously filed similar petitions before the SC.  

Sotto’s “threat”

Petition.cybercrime TRUE SCAN

The petitioners said Sections 4(c)4, 6, 7 and 19 violate their “freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, privacy of communications and rights against double jeopardy, unreasonable search and seizure and undue delegation of legislative authority.”

They said that Sections 6 and 7 — by raising the penalties for crimes already stated in the Revised Penal Code — violate the right against double jeopardy. 

They also said the provisions create “a chilling effect on freedom of expression” and cited the case of one of the petitioners, Sonido.

Sonido, who maintains the blog “Baratillo Pamphlet,” has criticized Sen. Vicente ‘Tito” Sotto III in two blog posts for plagiarizing parts of his speech against the reproductive health bill. 

Sotto was then quoted as saying that it was “unfortunate” that the Cybercrime bill was not yet signed into law at the time he was being criticized online.

“With the passage of the Cybercrime Act, the threat that was issued by Sen. Sotto has become real,” the petitioners wrote. 

Big government 

The petitioners also asked the SC to stop the Secretary of the Department of Justice, the chief of the Philippine National Police, the head of the National Bureau of Investigation, the executive director of the Information and Communications Office and the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government from implementing the Cybercrime Prevention Act. 

The petitioners said the law authorizes the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation  to “censor” and conduct unreasonable search.

They argued that by allowing the DOJ to shut down sites only on prima facie evidence that their content is libelous, the law makes the department an “omnipotent censor and regulator of online content.”  

They added that prima facie evidence in Section 19 of the law constitutes prior restraint. 

The PNP and the NBI, on the other hand, can collect real-time data and install devices at the networks of telecommunications, the petitioners said.

They claimed that even if these require a warrant, the police can easily gather data through other means. This, they alleged, correspond to “surveillance without a warrant.” –

More on the Cybercrime law:



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