SC justice says prosecution of cyber libel ‘clearly infirm’


The Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The provision under the Cybercrime Prevention Act which allows the prosecution of cyber libel and violation of the Revised Penal Code at the same time is “clearly infirm,” a justice of the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

Under Section 7 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, if prosecuted for libel under this law, the violator can still be prosecuted for violation under the Revised Penal Code which also provides penalty and defines the crime of libel.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said the law allows prosecution for both violation of the Revised Penal Code and a special law.

She cited the case of bouncing checks which prosecutes one for Estafa under the RPC and violation of BP22 at the same time.

However, she said, in the bouncing check case, there is a distinguishing element which allows simultaneous violation of both laws-in RPC, there has to be the element of deceit while under BP22, the issuer of the check is prosecuted for mere issuing a bouncing check.

“But in this case, there is no additional element to distinguish crime under this law [RA 10175] and what is included in the RPC. What is mentioned in Section 7 is not an element of the crime. What section 6 penalizes is the same as that in the RPC,” De Castro said.

Representative Neri Colmenares told the high court that simultaneous prosecution for libel is a violation of the right against double jeopardy where no person can be charged for the same offense twice.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta who echoed De Castro’s observation took note that while lawmakers increased the penalty of Internet libel by one degree or six years and one day to 12 year imprisonment from six months and 1 day to 6 years, it was not justified why the penalty was increased.

“By increasing the penalty by 1 degree, you are already providing for a different kind of libel but no new element was introduced…Section 7 is clearly infirm. There is something wrong with this,” Peralta said.

The oral argument is still ongoing.

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  • EdgarEdgar

    While it is heartening to know that two (2) justices stood up to protect cyberfreedom, namely de Castro and Peralta, what the public should worry about are the four (4) appointees of the administration to the Supreme Court. Sereno cited suicides related to cyberbullying as reason for putting in place the anti-cybercrime law. This was seconded by Leonen, Bernabe and Reyes. With Sereno h3ll-bent on upholding the anti-cybercrime law and its cyberlibel provision in support of the administration’s position, there is a good chance that the powers that be will get their way.

    Without cyberfreedom and freedom of information, Sereno’s vindictive termination of the Supreme Court psychologists last December 2012 just a few days before Christmas would not have come to light and spread so quickly in the social media. Without social media, Leonen’s altercation with a barber before the year ended would not have come to the public’s attention. Without the freedom to comment freely online, the misdeclared, understated and undeclared assets and liabilities of Sereno and her fellow justices in 2011 SALN would not have spread far and wide after PCIJ,org and GMA7 published their investigative report on the matter (attested to by COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan). An impeachable offense that future administrations can use against them now that a precedent has been established.

    In the next few weeks, we can expect Sereno and Leonen to lobby other members of the high tribunal quietly to secure the votes for upholding the anti-cybercrime law.

    Let us all be vigilant.

    • Rene

       si sotto me pakana at sinnigit niy ang ang cyber libel provison na yan,basta ka lang makabanat eh…

    • parefrank

      Of course, they do not want bad matters to be spread via the web in times of election campaign. As Noy claims to media “report positive matters only”. But should newspapers come with just one page?

  • spitfire

    Akala ko ba “brilliant lawyers” sina Enrile, Santiago, Angara, Drilon, at Pangilinan? Bar topnotchers pa mandin ang mga yan pwera lang kina Santiago, at Pangilinan tapos basic na basic yang rason ni Justices De Castro at Peralta hindi nila alam? Nagmamagaling pa sa balitaktakan itong si Santiago at Enrile pero tingnan mo naman yang pinaggagawa nila.

    • LeoSanMig

      Tama ka. Wala silang excuse dyan. Mabuti pa si Bongbong, walang alam kaya bumoto. Pero ika nga ng mga abugado, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.Kaya wala ring lusot ang Junior ng abusadong si Ferdie. 

  • spitfire

    The oral argument is still going on but two justices already expressed their view that the Cyber Crime law is clearly infirm. So, patatagalin pa ba yang oral argument? Kung baga sa boksing, kahit di pa bumagsak “standing knockout” na. Dapat itaas na yang kamay ni Juan dela Cruz.

    • LeoSanMig

      Di pa tapos pre. hehehe. Yun palang probisyon ng Cyber Crime law na libel ang sinabihan ng clearly infirm. Eto yung patagong sinaksak ni Sotto sa Cybercrime nung bill pa ito.

      • spitfire

         Yeah I know pre that the SC can sever unconstitutional provisions and keep the law. Inaasar ko lang yang admin.

        However, I have to tell you that the whole Cyber Crima Law cannot be upheld without changing method of prosecuting it’s violation. So evidently, the whole law should be struck down for good.

      • LeoSanMig

        yes. it should be struck down for good.

    • Mary Grace Sanchez

      bakit mo sinali si Miriam??.. from the start, she spoke against the Cybercrime Prevention Act…”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.” (cybercrime-law-unconstitutional-says-santiago in Inquirer)

      • spitfire

         There you go. Your ignorance and misguided belief of your idol Brenda is flowing everywhere. The Cyber Crime bill was approved by thirteen senators (lucky number eh) and that includes your idol Brenda with only Guingona as lone disenter. This is clear proof that your beloved Sen. Santiago is a “doble kara.”

      • spitfire

         Why only 13 senators voted for the Cyber Crime law with Guingona voted against it? You guess it right. The rest including the Cayetano siblings are too shrewd that they played it safe by hiding inside their rat holes. Iwas pusoy ika nga, that’s how brilliant they are.

  • LeoSanMig

    The provision under the Cybercrime Prevention Act which allows the prosecution of cyber libel and violation of the Revised Penal Code at the same time is “clearly infirm,” a justice of the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

    MR SOTTO*, nasasaktan ka sa mga sinasabi sa yo ng mga netizens. O, eto ang isang SUPREME COURT JUSTICE with matching quotation marks pa.

    *Tito Sotto is the one responsible for inserting that libel clause in the bill. He inserted it in a very sly manner. Patago ika nga. He should have inserted an anti-plagiarism clause, instead. 

    Tito Sotto – Clearly infirm. In the mind. I wonder how the sotto-copiers will react to this. Hirap depensahan ang kabobohan. Whew!

    • Ornbort Vortingeresdemesus


  • agustin

    Imagine these yellow fanatics want to impeached the remaining justices because they are appointed by  Arroyo. these fanatics are playing politics for Pnoy but actually  Corona  & GMA are heroes of Hda Luisita land distribution but Pnoy sees them as devil and had said that Corona may soon meet GMA.(JAIL MATES).

    • Ornbort Vortingeresdemesus

      ok granted they are heroes in one area. but hacienda luisita is NOT the country. please enumerate the rest of the heroics. I’d like to be educated. thanks :)

      • agustin

         Classifying heroes by area is strange ? it should be nationwide, most people nationwide appreciated this decision to distribute land to the farmers. and now we appreciate this Arroyo appointed justices de Castro and Peralta. are you not happy ?

      • parefrank

        Yes, Luisita has not direct to do with the cyber law. But the meaning is that sooner or later the remaining “not Noynoy” justices will be forced to go the “straight path” of Noy or they will also be impeached. The reason is simple: Noy says that GMA wanted justices who would protect her after stepping down. And Noy wants exactly the same, only in hi favor.

    • carlorocci

      You are out of topic…Get out of here….

    • LeoSanMig

      Bossing, pag ine-ducate mo si Ornbort, pwede ba, tagalugin mo na lang. Pakidagdagan na rin ng tuldok at kuwit. Thank you!

  • Marshall

    So it is weak..walang pinanghahawakan na haligi…Dapat ibasura ..

  • bahaykubo1015

    Justice de Castro thank you for the good work so far.
    Ingat ka lang kay Abnoy ha? Baka umandar na naman ang kanyang impeachment fever against those who question his will.

  • RyanE

    Good. The honorable justices should just declare outright that the new law is null and void.

  • Toby Magwire

    i concur

    • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo


  • Pepsky


    • Klein Mo

      You mean the authors ng senate version (sb2796)? heto sila: Trillanes, Antonio “Sonny” F., Angara, Edgardo J., Enrile, Juan Ponce, Ejercito-Estrada, Jinggoy P., Lapid, Manuel “Lito” M., Villar, Manny B., Defensor Santiago, Miriam, Marcos, Ferdinand “Bongbong” R., Revilla Jr., Ramon A., Legarda, Loren B.

      • john clark

        Ilan dyan tatakbo sa 2013?…. Hehehe!

      • LeoSanMig

        pakidagdag na rin dyan sa listahan mo ang prumotor ng libel clause na yan na si Tito Sotto, ang therapist sa senado.

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