Our human right to the freedom of information
has not yet been made justiciable,
already a law is readied to curtail
our human right to the freedom of expression.
Republic Act No. 10175 –
AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES –
was drafted, discussed, signed into law with all the good intentions to decisively stop the “perpetuation of licentiousness” ( Petition for Certioriari by members of the Ateneo Human Rights Center or AHRC Petition) and other harmful acts perpetrated within the cyber communities and affecting as well millions of Filipino users of the internet. R.A. No. 10175 was to take into effect last October 3, 2012.
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) “like” / agree with the AHRC Petition arguing that singularly and / or collectively the following provisions in R.A. 10175, as they transgress the …Bill of Rights in Article III of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, are
Chapter II: Punishable Acts
Sec. 4. Cybercrime Offenses. – The following acts constitute the offense of cybercrime punishable under this Act: xxxxxxx
(4) Libel. – The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.
SEC. 5. Other Offenses. – The following acts shall also constitute an offense:
(a) Aiding or abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who wilfully aids or abets in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be liable.
(b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime. — Any person who willfully attempts to commit any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.
SEC. 6. All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.
SEC. 7. Liability under Other Laws. — 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.
SEC. 19. Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data. — When a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data
The above provisions are also non-compliant with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which was ratified by President Corazon Aquino and signed recently by President Benigno S. Aquino III, ironically, days before the 40th anniversary of the imposition of Martial Law which violently suppressed, among other human rights, the freedoms of information and of expression.
Furthermore, in relation to the issue of libel, the U.N. Human Rights Committee states in General Comment No. 34 (2011): “States parties should consider the decriminalization of defamation and, in any case, the application of the criminal law should only be countenanced in the most serious of cases and imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty.”
Even as early as January 24 Senate Session when Senator Vicente Sotto inserted the libel clause, provisions have been made to lodge within the said law that if implemented would be like viruses for impunity. Unwittingly or otherwise, congress has legislated
“one (1) degree higher” for impunity.
One person too many, after exercising one’s freedom of expression, have been a victim of vilification and later became a subject of extra-judicial killing or enforced disappearance or torture. Human rights defenders in exposing also through cyber bulletin boards the anomalies and abuses done by government and / or security forces officials are often harassed and criminalize, as in the case of Cocoy Tulawie. The objectionable provisions, despite protestation to the contrary, can be used to legitimize violations.
If not amended of the objectionable provisions, those directly responsible for the passage of R.A. 10175 will be held also accountable for the human rights violations and criminal acts done in its name.
PAHRA unites with all those petitioners who call on the responsibles of the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government, as well as the Supreme Court, to:
1. Facilitate the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order to desist in implementing R.A. No. 10175;
2. Schedule a Department of Justice public hearing and input its results in the Oral Arguments before the Supreme Court;
3. Amend or declare null and void Sections 4 (4), 5, 6, 7 and 19 of R.A. No. 10175.
October 8, 2012