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De Lima vows to protect rights, freedoms if SC upholds cybercrime law

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. SENATE POOL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima vowed on Monday to protect constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms should the Supreme Court uphold the anti-cybercrime law.

Speaking at the 2nd Philippine Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Summit at the Edsa Shangrila hotel, De Lima said while the summit had to do with intellectual property rights protection, she could not help but touch on “one of the hottest topics of today,” the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

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“The provisions of the (law) are now submitted for scrutiny of their constitutionality before the Supreme Court but, regardless of how that case will be eventually resolved, it is a concrete sign that we, in the Philippine government, take intellectual property rights protection very seriously, whether infringement is committed in the physical world or in cyberspace,” she said, adding that the country took a plunge on the issue earlier than the United States.

The high court had suspended the implementation of the law for four months in consideration of the petitions opposing particularly the provision in the law criminalizing and imposing higher penalties on online libel, which the media said violated freedom of expression.

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But De Lima, acknowledging “the gravity of the constitutional freedom that may be affected by the said law,” said ” I now give my word that we shall not only ensure that we, ourselves, will discharge our mandate with circumspect and with strict observance of the constitutionally enshrined rights and freedoms.”

She also vowed to come up with proper safeguards to avoid any opportunity for “future administrations and leaderships” to abuse the law.

“We do not wish to regress back to a state of fear and censorship or, worse, to an incident similar to the tragic and heinous attack on a young girl who, in 2009, started writing a blog for BBC under a pseudonym, talking about her dreams for the future and how the Taliban were pushing those aspirations further and further out of reach,” De Lima said.

She was referring to 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai who was recently shot and wounded by the Taliban in Pakistan.

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TAGS: constitutional law, Courts, Crime, Cybercrime Prevention Act, Department of Justice, Freedom of expression, Internet, Judiciary, justice and rights, law and justice, Leila de Lima, Online Libel, Supreme Court, technology, trials and Litigation
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