Cebu groups join opposition to cybercrime law
The Cebu Citizen’s Press Council and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter join the opposition to the Cybercrime Prevention Law which took effect last Wednesday.
According to Atty. Earl Bonachita, president of the IBP Cebu City Chapter, inclusion of online libel in the Cybercrime Prevention Law (RA 101&5) defeats that law’s good intention.
The Cebu Citizens Press Council (CCPC) meanwhile joined in questioning the constitutionality of RA 10175 in the Supreme Court.
The CCPC joined the petition of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, the Philippine Press Institute and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility before the Supreme questioning the constitutionality of the cybercrime law.
“This law perceived as violating the people’s right to express freely,” Bonachita said.
He said that while there are moves to decriminalize libel, the new law is imposing a higher penalty of imprisonment for violators.
Under the law, online libel can be penalized a maximum of 12 years imprisonment. Under ordinary libel as prescribed in the Revised Penal Code, the maximum penalty for libel is four years and two months.
“This could be used as a harassment tool against those who want to express themselves,” he said.
Cebu Federation of Beat Journalist (CFBJ) president Elias Baquero said that the federation has no position yet towards the law but will be known after their monthly meeting this Saturday.
However, Baquero said that the federation has already done initial talks and so far, there were strong positions calling for the amendment of the law.
The Supreme Court has taken up the petitions to declare the law unconstitutional last Tuesday. It however did not issue a temporary restraining order on the law which took effect Oct. 3, 2012.
It will again take up the cases next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Edgardo Angara, principal author of RA 10175, said he is filing an amendatory bill to strike down the powers bestowed by the law to the Dept. of Justice to take down websites which are found prima facie to be violating the law.
Another Senator who voted for the law, wants the provision on online libel stricken down. Sen. Francis Escudero wants online libel taken down as one of the prohibited acts in the cybercrime law./Correspondent Joy Cherry Quito
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