Lawmaker seeks changes in cyberlibel law | Inquirer News
CONFLICTING INTERPRETATIONS

Lawmaker seeks changes in cyberlibel law

/ 05:44 AM January 26, 2023
Shadows of hands cast over laptop. STORY: Lawmaker seeks changes in cyberlibel law

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MANILA, Philippines — Cebu City Rep. Rachel Marguerite del Mar wants a one-year prescriptive period for cyberlibel, instead of the 12 years set in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, to put in place a reasonable time limit on lawsuits over online defamation.

In her House Bill No. 6750, Del Mar questioned why the prescription period for cyberlibel was set at 12 years when the Revised Penal Code set a prescription period of one year for the crime of libel.

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In Del Mar’s explanatory note, she pointed out: “With the advent of advance technologies, social media and other platforms, the exercise of freedom of speech, of expression or of the press has become wider, faster and accessible.”

“Despite compliance with the Data Privacy Act, netizens — not only media people — are now at risk [from] all kinds of lawsuits by commenting or publishing something through a social media platform,” she pointed out.

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The lawmaker noted that cyberlibel, under Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, has “no express provision on the prescription,” but the Department of Justice set it at 12 years in the law’s implementing rules.

A law’s prescription period is the time limit within which a person could bring legal action for an offense or enforce a right.

Del Mar pointed out that there were two conflicting interpretations to the prescriptive period of cyberlibel: 12 years under RA 10175’s IRR and the one year set in section 90 of the Revised Penal Code.

She cited a 2014 Supreme Court ruling which stated that cyberlibel is “not a new crime” as it already falls under “similar means of committing libel” in the Revised Penal Code Article 353, in relation to Article 355.

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