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Oldest lawyers group files 11th petition vs cybercrime law

The oldest voluntary lawyers group in the country on Friday filed with the Supreme Court the 11th petition questioning the legality of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.   The Philippine Bar Association (PBA), in its 61-page petition for prohibition, asked the court to subject the cybercrime law, which took effect last Wednesday, "under strict scrutiny."   "The PBA conducted a sober analysis of the Cybercrime Law and found various provisions that have serious constitutional issues. We decided to bring the matter to the Supreme Court so that these issues may be resolved. The Rule of Law is as essential in our physical world as it is in cyberspace," said PBA president Ma. Charito Cruz in a separate statement.   The group said in its petition that "the same well-intentioned measure intended to suppress criminal behavior can stifle legitimate expression that is protected under our Constitution.”   The group described the controversial law as a "class legislation that discriminates against netizens and online journalists." It said the law's "void and vague" provisions give law enforcers "unbridled discretion" in interpreting and implementing the law.   The PBA expressed fears that the authority given to agencies like the Department of Justice to access and restrict certain computer data could be used for surveillance of information involving even members of the Supreme Court if it determined there is "due cause" to do so.   "The respondents should be immediately enjoined from implementing and/or enforcing such void  and unconstitutional provisions of the Cybercrime Law as the same would cause grave and irreparable  injury, not merely to petitioner PBA and its members,  but to the Filipino people," PBA said in the petition.    Named respondents were President Benigno Aquino III, who signed the law last September 12; Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa; Justice Secretary Leila de Lima; and the heads of the Information and Communication Technology Office, the Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation.   The PBA said it led the filing of cases to question the “midnight” appointment of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona to the Supreme Court and the midnight revamp of the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines towards the end of the Arroyo administration.   Ten other petitions have earlier been filed against the law, including:  
  • Sen. Teofisto Guingona III; - journalists, bloggers, lawyers led by University of the Philippines Law professor Harry Roque; 
  • a group of lawyers from the Ateneo School of Law; 
  • journalists led by Alab ng Mamahayag (ALAM); 
  • Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino; 
  • national artist Bienvenido Lumbera; 
  • technology law experts led by UP Law professor JJ Disini; 
  • Louis Biraogo;  
  • some 250 journalists led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility;
  • a group of 18 bloggers led by famous bloggers "Tonyo Cruz" and "Professional Heckler."
  The petitioners have similar pleas to declare specific sections of the law as unconstitutional for violating a person's right to free expression, due process, equal protection, privacy of communication and correspondence, and protection against double jeopardy, among others. — AE/KBK, GMA News