DOJ opposed online libel - De Lima

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) objected to the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act that penalize online libel.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the DOJ recommended "the deletion of cyberdefamation, cyberthreats and Internet libel," adding that since 2007, when the DOJ first crafted the consolidated cybercrime bill, "Internet libel was never a part of any [of the bill's] versions."

Section 4 (c) 4 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act includes online libel as a cybercrime. Section 6 states that the penalty for it could be raised to a degree higher; those who committed libel using a "computer system" may stay behind bars from 6 to 12 years. Libel under the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, is only punishable with imprisonment from 6 months to 4 years.

Seven petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court seeking for the nullification of these provisions, including Section 19, which grants the DOJ the power to shut down sites that may contain harmful content based on prima facie evidence.

De Lima told reporters that they had objected to this particular provision when the law was being crafted.

She also clarified that the department will only go after criminal syndicates "who abuse the openness of social media."

The DOJ will craft the implementing rules and regulations of the law. It is also set to establish a new office for cybercrime that will train over 150 investigators and prosecutors in cyber forensics.

De Lima said that they will address the issues raised by various sectors about the law. A multi-sectoral forum on the Cybercrime Prevention Act will be conducted on October 9. - Rappler.com