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De Lima won’t suspend cybercrime law power to block websites

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima turned down the proposal of Sen. Edgardo Angara, on Thursday, to suspend the implementation of a provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Act that gave the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to block or restrict access to websites that violate the new law.

De Lima said the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law would “clarify” that provision to address the complaints of various sectors.

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“On a finer legal point, no legislator can unilaterally ask for a suspension of a law nor can we decide to suspend,” she said.

“On the ground, we will just be judicious on the first few cases to allay fears of abuse or excesses in the exercise of such power and also to gain trust,” she added.

Angara acknowledged having reservations about Section 19 of Republic Act No. 10175 that has authorized the justice secretary to block access to websites that commit child pornography and other crimes spelled out in the new law.

“I think there is some ground for questioning not the authority granted but the lack of precaution and safeguards in the exercise of this blocking authority, said Angara, the sponsor in the Senate and one of the authors of the new law.

“For instance, in the warrant of arrest or search you need a court order before you can do a search or effect an arrest,” he said at a news forum.

“Personally, I would recommend that we ask the secretary of justice when promulgating the rules and regulations to suspend the exercise of this power in the meantime before the Supreme Court decides on this particular issue or the Congress passes the amendatory law,” he added.

The DOJ is set to hold a multisectoral forum on Oct. 9 to address the concerns of various sectors about the law and to get inputs before the agency,  Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Department of Science and Technology come out with the IRR.

However, a group of bloggers that asked the Supreme Court to nullify provisions of the cybercrime law for being unconstitutional said that “sugarcoating” the law through its IRR was not enough.

“However good the intentions of President Aquino, his spokespersons and Secretary De Lima are in coming out with the IRR, those cannot change this bad law. It cannot change an evil law,” said Anthony Ian Cruz, owner of the tech and political blog tonyocruz.com.

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“It’s like trying to soften the blow of a hammer or put glitters on it,” he added.

Cruz said the promised amendments of the law’s proponents were an admission on the part of legislators that they made a “big mistake.”

TOPICS: Child Pornography, Congress, Crime, Cybercrime Prevention Act, Department of Justice, Edgardo Angara, Fraud, freedom of express, Internet, justice and rights, law and justice, Libel, News, online news media, Senate, Social Media, Websites
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