SolGen: Cyber law bars multiple prosecutions of authors of libelous articles

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Alliance of youth organizations and institutions against cybercrime law held a vigil in front of the Supreme Court building in Padre Faura in Manila on Jan. 14, 2013, the eve of the high tribunal’s hearing on the oral arguments against the controversial law. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Journalists have no reason to fear Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, government lawyers said Tuesday but justices of the Supreme Court are doubtful.

During Tuesday’s oral argument, Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza said journalist who writes for both online and newspaper cannot be separately prosecuted following the single publication rule.

“If the article is posted on the Internet and published in the newspaper or the article appears in the morning paper and also appeared on the newspapers evening edition, it is considered single publication,” Jardeleza said.

Under the Single Publication Rule, a complainant for libel has only one claim for every mass publication.

Jardeleza made the pronouncement after he was questioned by Justices of the Supreme Court on Section 7 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which allows prosecution under the law and simultaneously prosecuted for violation of the Revised Penal Code.

Section 7 of the law provides that “a prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.”

Jardeleza said Section 7 does not include libel.

“Libel is specially mentioned as content offense but Congress did not provide separate penalty for that so-called content libel,” Jardeleza said adding that Section 7 refers to other cybercrime offenses.

But Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro said “it [Section 7] does not say libel is excluded…It is not reflected in the language of the law. It [Section 7] does not say that these are different offenses.”

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, on the other hand, said Section 7 violates the prohibition against double jeopardy, which means that no person shall be tried for the same offense twice.

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  • WeAry_Bat

    Very good questioning by our SC judges.  Is this a sign of honor showing again?

    Weighing things, ‘honor’ seems more befitting judges who go through years of study than say, some senators who feel high-falutingly ‘honorable’ when they were voted in by ignorance.

  • fromuniversityofthephilippines

    Beyond the storified version of the oral arguments, here are
    the exact words of the solgen and the justices during the entire oral
    arguments,  live tweets, read more by
    typing in Google search:  SolGen
    oral arguments Cybercrime Law & some comments  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4R3GZTGML26TV2VGS6RVHP2THM Fred

    It appears that the Cybercrime Prevention Act is half-baked
    as shown by the manner of questioning by the SC justices.

  • http://fables.boxpinoy.com/ Lucky Luciano

    “Journalists has no reason to fear Republic Act 10175″…

    Where have all the bloggers gone, long time posting………..dum dum dum dum

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