SC extends indefinitely suspension of cyberlaw

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MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended indefinitely its order suspending the implementation of the cybercrime law, which would penalize with imprisonment offensive posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites and which critics said would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

The court ruling came a day before Congress adjourns for the election without the House of Representatives acting on the long-pending proposed Freedom of Information Act, regarded as the foundation of any democratic state conscious of the people’s right to know. This means the bill is again dead in the water and will be back to square one in the new Congress.

“The temporary restraining order (TRO) in the cybercrime case is extended until further orders from the court,” the tribunal’s public information office said in a text message to reporters.

“We submit to the court’s discretion and respect such a decision to extend the TRO,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told Agence France-Presse in a text message. “It’s not a total defeat. It’s just a TRO pending determination of the merits of the petitions.”

President Aquino signed the law in September last year, amid huge online protests, to stamp out cybercrimes such as fraud, identity theft, spamming and child pornography.

‘It’s not perfect law’

But opponents swiftly sued over provisions that authorize heavy prison terms for online libel and give the state powers to shut down websites and monitor online activities.

The high court last October issued a four-month injunction that was to have lapsed on Wednesday, as it scrutinized the law for possible violations of constitutional provisions on freedom of expression.

De Lima did not say how long the new injunction would be in force and Supreme Court officials declined to comment.

“As the President said, it’s not a perfect law, and even the solicitor general had questions about the take-down provision,” Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang said in a text message. “We will abide by the processes and decisions of the court.”

‘Like,’ or ‘share’ punishable

During the court hearings, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said that a simple “like” or “share” of a Facebook post, or a “retweet” on Twitter, of a libelous statement constituted a violation of the law.

“Hallelujah! TRO will prevent chilling of exercise of freedom of speech pending decision on merits of constitutionality of cybercrimes prevention law,” University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque said in a text message.

Roque was among over a dozen petitioners who had argued against the law’s constitutionality in the hearings called by the Supreme Court. He opposed the online libel provisions in the law.

“We urge the Supreme Court to repeal the entire law so that Congress can draft another law that would only cater to specific cybercrimes like child pornography on the Internet,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said in a text message.

He said the entire cybercrime law was unconstitutional, including online libel. He also urged the high tribunal to strike down the libel provision in the Revised Penal Code.

“No one should be imprisoned for the mere exercise of the constitutional right to free expression,” Colmenares added.

Back to square one

As in the last Congress, the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which has been pending for over a decade, met its death in the House of Representatives.

With only one session day to go before the present congress adjourns, the FOI bill has yet to be debated in the House, making it impossible to be approved on second and third reading. President Aquino also refused to certify it as urgent. He promised to pass the measure when he ran for President.

The Senate has long passed its version of the measure.

The bill was only sponsored in the House plenary last week after much delay getting it out of the public information committee chaired by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

But debates did not push through because of threats from the House minority to question the quorum and have the session adjourned should the bill be taken up.

With the bill stalled and dying in the plenary, it would have to be refiled in the next Congress, where it would be back to square one and would need to start at the committee level again.

Ironic

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, who supported an FOI bill but rejected the Palace amendments to the current version of the measure, said it was the President’s own men who killed it in Congress, taking their cue from Aquino’s apparent lack of interest.

“Evardone’s throwing in the towel is just the last nail on the coffin that was designed and built by the President himself, whose refusal to certify the bill or even include it in his priority measures spelled its doom,” Casiño said in a recent statement.

He said it was ironic that the President spoke at the 5th Global Organizations of Parliamentarians against Corruption when it was his administration that killed the measure that was supposed to help battle corruption.—With reports from TJ Burgonio and AFP

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E3CE56OQVPC4RPYD2NR4VD3SUE Bert

    This is the result of having an INDEPENDENT SUPREME COURT……HAIL TO THE SUPREME COURT, thank for not allowing yourself to become MALACANANG RUBBER STAMP, unlike our congress and the senate…..!!!!

    • scorpio15

      Meron ka bang alam na administrasyon ay Rubber Stamp ang Supreme Court?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E3CE56OQVPC4RPYD2NR4VD3SUE Bert

        looks like you were born just yesterday….scroll up for juan tamadachij correct answer to your innnocent query….duh

  • Mel

    Binaboy kasi ni Iskul Bukol…

  • Maldi2

    Kay daming batas at mga EOs na pinirmahan si Panot na nababasura lang
    pagdating sa Korte Suprema.  Ang mga ito ba’y ginogulan ng panahon at
    pagaaral ng isang matinong pangulo bago pirmahan?

    Ang dapat ay
    ibasura na ng husto pati si Simeon ng di na tayo mag-aksaya pa ng pera
    sa mga walang kwentang batas at EOs ng isang estudyanteng pangulo!

    • spitfire

       Exactly.

    • tiopaero

      Wag naman ibasura si Abnoy mali yun, i-confine na lang sa National Mental Hospital. Marami siyang makakasundo doon,

  • noynoyingalways

    HAHAHAH! YEY!

  • TuwadNaDaan

    pakpak…!!! 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    CYBERCRIME LAW IS A PRESIDENT PROTECTION TO THE NETIZEN WHO WANTS TO ATTACK THE BOSS

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WWOTOJASNHRXAP77UNRETCZZGQ ulrich j

    Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.   is the result  of  accusing a senator  of plagiarism  …nangopya  ng speech  sa  …nahuli  ng  cyber watch   ,  pinagtawanan ng  tao  sa  cyberspace  , sabi nya  biktima  daw  sya  ng cyber bullies..bullshit  oo…puro  batas  para  sa  mga  may  kapangyarihan na ang  pinag gagawa nyo ah… 

    malinaw  na  malinaw  na  ayaw nyo n  ng criticism na tao  ayaw  nyo  ng  opinyon ng iba pra  tuloy  tuloy  ang  katarantaduhan nyo  sa  gobyerno…this law is meant  to protect the existing powers of those  people in the goverment.
     
    CYBERLAW is  an encroachment to our freedom of speech….NO TO CYBERLAW…

    • observer1356

       I agree! … Parang ito yata ang pangsagot nila (Senate & Congress) sa Freedom of Information na sobrang tagal at mahigit kumulang isang dekada na sa kanilang mga kamay, di pa magawa-gawan ng batas!

      another point for the SC Justices!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FLJI5IXDQUKCJIOYLEYTDUJFIE Lakay

    Ayos, maayos na ang pag-iisip ng mga nasa Supreme Court. Mabuhay ang mga SC justices!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3TWVIBNBHJIBKXLUC5IT2JYM5E Harry

    The Supreme Court seemed to be only Government agency responsive to the sentiments of the people.

  • Jarred Pulido

    Lets make sure that we vote for better lawmakers. Not the sottocopy who inserts and lie I mean deny doing it.

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