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Sen. Guingona files 4th petition vs Cybercrime Prevention Law

September 27, 2012 12:49pm
Saying the law needs to be revisited and amended, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III on Friday filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175) – the fourth to be filed this week.

The senator filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with an application for temporary restraining order, and asked the high court to declare as unconstitutional certain provisions of RA 10175.

At a press conference shortly before he filed the complaint, Guingona said Section 6 of the law, for instance, denies the equal protection clause. "Bakit ang gumagamit ng papel at ballpen ay mas mababa ang penalty pero kapag gumagamit ka ng internet mas mataas ang penalty mo. Hindi patas ang pagtrato."

The provisions Guingona wants trashed include Sections 4, 6, 7 and 19, which he said were "too vague" and violated a person's right to freedom speech.

"Ang dami nang gumagamit ng Internet at madaming natatakot na dahil pwedeng gamitin na ang batas na ito against freedom of expression and their right to say what they feel," Guingona said.

Guingona filed his 39-page petition for certiorari and prohibition with an application for a temporary restraining order, shortly before noon Friday at the Supreme Court in Manila.

The controversial law came from a consolidated version of House Bill No. 5808 and Senate Bill No. 2796. The law  was signed by President Benigno Aquino on Sept. 12 and was to take effect 15 days after its publication on the Official Gazette and newspapers of general circulation.

Section 4 of RA 10175 enumerates the cybercrime offenses under the law, including libel; Section 6 provides that penalties should be one degree higher than provided in the Revised Penal Code.

Under the Cybercrime Law, the penalty for people who committed libel online would be imprisonment of six years and one day to 12 years; while penalty for the same offense committed in traditional media would only be six months and one day to four years.

In his petition, Guingona said: "This should not be allowed. A law, to be valid, must apply to all members of the same class. Persons committing libel are similarly situated, whether using a computer system or not.

Meanwhile, Section 7, another section that Guingona contested, provides that prosecution under the Cybercrime Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision in the RPC.

Guingona said that particular provision was "contrary to the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy."

Guingona also questioned Section 19 of the law, which gives the Department of Justice the authority to restrict or block access to computer data that would be found prima facie in violation of the Cybercrime Law. He said the law gives the DOJ "unbridled authority and an extraordinary power."

"Sa Saligang Batas, sinasabi na ang searches and seizures should be upon determination of probable cause by a judge," he said.

Also, Guingona said, "Hindi ako tutol sa buong cybrcrime law. Ang hacking mali talaga iyon. Parang pumasok ka sa bahay, binuksan mo ang refrigerator at nagsira ka, mali iyon eh."

Guingona also asked the Supreme Court to conduct oral arguments so he and his camp could further explain their position on the controversial law.

In case the Supreme Court rules in his favor, Guingona said he plans to revisit the controversial law, conduct consultations with other stakeholders, and if possible make necessary changes to it.

"Gagawa tayo ng corrective na batas. Kasama ang mga nagba-blog sa Internet, kokonsultahin natin. We are for the responsible use of the Internet. We are for responsible blogging. Ano ba dapat ang rules, pag-usapan natin," he said.

Guingona's petition came after three other separate petitions were filed contesting the Cybercrime Prevention Law. On September 24, several organizations of journalists filed a similar petition to entirely scrap the law.

Another petition against the law was filed by Louis Biraogo, who assailed the constitutionality of Section 4(c), Section 12, Section 20, and the penal provisions of the law.

Biraogo earlier succeeded in having President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 nullified by the Supreme Court. The executive order created a Truth Commission to investigate anomalies during the administration of Aquino's predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The third petition was filed on Wednesday by a group of technology law experts led by JJ Disini of the University of the Philippines-College of Law. Disini also questioned the same provisions in the Cybercrime Prevention Law. — LBG, GMA News
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