Cybercrime law to limit use of internet, mobile phones-A A +A
Monday, October 29, 2012
REPUBLIC Act 10175, an act defining cybercrime and providing for the prevention, investigation, suppression and the imposition of the penalties for the violation, is up to put limit on the use of the internet and cellular phones.
Lawyer Renecito Novero had his legal view on the said law which was restrained by the Supreme Court because there were those who filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of this law especially on the libel.
With the issuance of a restraining order by the Supreme Court, this law is not yet considered efficacious, effective or implementable, thus the executive department cannot yet implement the law.
If a person violates this law, he or she should not be arrested for such crime because the law is still ineffective.
There cannot yet be considered any crime under this law, until the SC shall have lifted favorably the restraining order and allows the implementation of the law.
"But for all we know, the petition might succeed and therefore the SC might invalidate the law and pronounce it as unconstitutional," he said.
He said that there are cybercrimes, particularly on the illegal access on the computer program, data and system interference, hacking, computer squatting, cyber sex and pornography, cyber libel and other crimes done with the use of computers and cellular phones.
He added that there are portions in this law, which are good and there are also portions that are highly questionable. Computers are widely used, as most homes have computers. As this communication gadget is intrusive and pervasive, there has to be a limitation in the use of computers and other gadgets.
During the time of former President Fidel V. Ramos, two Filipinos caught misusing a computer and that caused a loss of $50 million that affected not only the country but adversely affected computers beyond the Philippines.
But in those times, there is no such thing as cybercrime law. But they were not penalized because of the general principle of law in the criminal justice system that there was no law penalizing a crime, there cannot be any crime, thus some legislators tried to come up with this law.
However, the problem on this law is the provision on libel because the Revised Penal Code, which is considered to be the general code of crimes in the Philippines also defines libel and penalizes libel.
The penalty that can be imposed under the law under the revised penal code is only about four years maximum.
But under the Cybercrime law, the penalty for libel is double than the penalty imposed under the revised penal code which means eight years of maximum imprisonment.
The prosecution is done under the revised penal code and the accused is convicted and can avail of the probation law. Under this law, if the penalty imposed is six years and below, one van avail of the probation law so that the accused might be convicted and yet will not be compelled to serve the sentence in prison.
This means that he can be freed and will only report to the probation office ones or twice a month.
But if one is convicted of libel under the cybercrime law, he cannot avail of the probation law because the penalty imposed is double the penalty imposed in the revised penal code and therefore it will be eight years imprisonment.
This is one factor that was questioned by petitioners as they considered the penalty as not commensurate to the crime committed.
Worst is that as the revised penal code is the general code of crimes, the Cybercrime law is a special law so one can be prosecuted under the revised penal code.
One can also be prosecuted under the Cybercrime law and one cannot invoke the principle of double jeopardy, he said.
For one crime, a person can be prosecuted twice and convicted twice and penalized twice, he said.
He also said that the Supreme Court has several options on this new law, which include their declaration of the entire law as constitutional or valid and therefore implementable.
It can also declare that the entire law is unconstitutional, therefore entirely invalid and should not be implemented.
The other option is for the SC to declare a particular section or provision of the law as unconstitutional and declare the other portion of the law as constitutional, he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 29, 2012.