SC justice inhibits self from petitions vs cybercrime law-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
MANILA (2nd Update) -- Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco has swiftly acceded to a call for him to inhibit from hearing the consolidated petition seeking to scrap the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Velasco, who previously filed libel cases against veteran journalist Marites Vitug, is the justice-in-charge of the case.
"While the allegation of bias on the part of Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. in favor of the Cybercrime Prevention Act is totally baseless and bereft of truth as he in fact proposed the issuance of the temporary restraining order (TRO) to bar the enforcement and effectivity of the assailed law, he will nevertheless recuse from the consolidated petitions to erase any doubt or suspicion that preconception may influence or even taint the adjudication of said cases," he said in a statement Wednesday.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) earlier filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking Velasco to step aside in the case because of his reputation as the only sitting magistrate who lodged a libel suit against a member of the press.
Velasco had filed two libel suits against Vitug, for an online article posted in ABS-CBNnews.com/Newsbreak (13 counts, one for each day that it remained on the website), and another for "Shadow of Doubt", her book about corruption in the judiciary.
The cases have since been withdrawn.
With Velasco's inhibition, the consolidated petition from bloggers, social media network users, militants, and journalists, will now be raffled to another justice.
"The matter of Justice Velasco's inhibition will be taken up in the next en banc session (on October 23)," acting SC spokesperson Gleoresty Guerra said in a text message.
Critics saw Republic Act 10175 as unconstitutional because provisions like online libel allegedly violate the freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, the right to privacy and correspondence, and the right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Last week, the SC justices unanimously voted to stop the implementation of the much-criticized law for 120 days with oral arguments scheduled on January 15, 2013. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)