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UPDATED 2:30pm In the first major test of the Sereno court, the high tribunal has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, a Supreme Court (SC) justice has confirmed. As of 2:30 p.m., the SC had already concluded its en banc session but had yet to come out with an official announcement. However, the source — who declined to be named because he was not authorized to disclose the proceedings to the media — told reporters that the TRO had already been issued. De Lima: DOJ will comply with unanimous vote Justice Secretary Leila de Lima later told GMA News that the vote was unanimous.
De Lima said that the Department of Justice (DOJ), as the law's implementing agency, will comply with the High Court's order. The DOJ had earlier been tasked with creating a set of Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the law.
"The TRO is an exercise of the power of judicial review. We respect and will abide by it," she told GMA News via SMS. "We will present the arguments outlined in the historic Forum on Cybercrime earlier formally before the High Court in due time. Our advocacy for a safe cyberspace and interdiction of organized crime will continue," she added.According to de Lima, the TRO suspends the law in its entirety —not just select contentious provisions— for a period of 120 days. Petitioners to get day in court The Supreme Court action climaxes an intense period of protest against the law, including a spate of hacking attacks that disabled government websites and even a prominent media portal. The court has also received 15 petitions as of Tuesday questioning the constitutionality of the law, with various groups condemning it for purportedly threatening freedom of speech, increasing the penalties for libel, and making it easier for authorities to spy on citizens using electronic media. Another source within the Supreme Court said that the tribunal is set to hear the oral arguments of all the petitioners on January 15, 2013. All eyes on Sereno Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was being watched closely for how she would lead the court on an issue that could put her on a collision course with the man who just appointed her, President Aquino, who signed the bill into law on September 12. At the same time, the case could also demonstrate her independence from Aquino. The fury over the law has generated world-wide publicity, with some observers noting the irony that the Philippines is a leader in social media use. Critics of the law have argued that it was partly in retaliation for the often virulent criticism of lawmakers, especially Sen. Tito Sotto, who claimed to be a victim of cyberbullying after charges that recent speeches of his were plagiarized. — With Rouchelle R. Dinglasan and Lia Mañalac-del Castillo, HS/TJD, GMA News