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Petitioners seek TRO vs Cybercrime Prevention Act 

October 1, 2012 1:24pm
Petitions against the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 have been pouring in the Supreme Court.

On Monday, a group of petitioners —  including lawmakers, bloggers, members of the academe and students — sought a temporary restraining on the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the sixth petition filed against the controversial measure. 

“Immediately upon the filing of this petition, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) [is requested to] be issued, ordering Respondents and any person acting on their behalf, to cease and desist from implementing R.A. No. 10175 and its provisions,” the 21-page petition read.
 
Among the petitioners were Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, and the UP College of Mass Communications Dean Rolando Tolentino.

Other petitioners were blogger Katrina Stuart Santiago, Ma. Katherine Elona of the Philippine Collegian, Anakbayan national chairman Vencer Mari Crisostomo, National Union of Students of the Philippines’ representative Isabelle Therese Baguisi, Prof. Carl Marc Ramota of the UP Manila Department of Social Sciences, and , Ofelia Beltran Balleta of the Crispin Beltran Research Center among others.
 
The respondents were Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

The filing of the petition came on the same day De Lima said her department will implement the law signed by President Benigno Aquino III on Sept. 12.

As the implementing agency, the DOJ has been tasked to draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10175, De Lima told reporters.

Vague description
 
The petitioners opposed the vague description of online libel in the Cybercrime Prevention Law. It cited that Sections 4, 5 and 6 of RA 10175 relative to libel “are unconstitutional due to vagueness.”
 
The petition noted that online libel, computer system, information and communications technology was not properly defined under the new law.
 
Sections 4 and 5 of the law tackle the various offenses covered under the Cybercrime Act, including online libel, which the petitioners said was in violation of the people's right to free speech.
 
On the other hand, Section 6 of the law hands down a higher-degree of punishment for people found guilty of libel and allows them to be charged separately under the Revised Penal Code for the same offense.
 
“It must also be noted that this form of libel made through the means under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code and committed through a computer system is a new offense created under a special law,” the petition read.
 
“However, under this special law, no penalty is mentioned or prescribed for the new offense. Neither does the law makes any reference to the penalties prescribed under Art. 355, as it merely adopts its elements and not its penalties,” it added.
 
Apart from vagueness, the petitioners explained that the law curtails “constitutional rights to due process, speech, expression, free press and academic freedom.”
 
It noted that implementation of the law will produce a “chilling effect against constitutionally protected speech.” — RSJ, GMA News
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