Davao lawyers want cybercrime law reviewed

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IN THE wake of the growing opposition to the newly enacted Cybercrime Law, legal practitioners in Davao City are one in saying that the law needs to be reviewed.

At the height of the argument on the petitions for the revisions of Republic Act (RA) 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012), some lawyers in the city shared their opinion.

"Not only revisions, but should be struck down as many provisions of it infringe unconstitutionally and continues a sweeping intrusion into the peoples freedom of speech, of expression and of the press, right to privacy and right against unreasonable search and seizure. It is a Machiavellian law, a badge of a budding dictator," said lawyer Karlos Yzagani Zarate, convenor of Alliance against Impunity-Union People's Lawyers in Mindanao (AIM-UPLM).


"The law by itself is alright except for some provisions such as libel committed by the use of computer via Twitter, etcetera, has a maximum penalty of 17 years way higher that the penalty under the Revised Penal Code," said lawyer Jonathan Jocom, Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Davao chapter president.

"The cybercrime law, on the whole, is more dangerous than what it purports to protect. The provision on libel should be corrected. The libel provision is more designed to stifle freedom rather that protect individual rights," lawyer Glocelito Jayma said.

Lawyer Miguel Palma Gil of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) said the law needs to be reviewed, citing that in the section 4, paragraph 5, items 1aa and 1bb of the RA 10175, "there is a need to be clear when a person has no right when most, of not all items in the Internet is for public consumption."

For the cybersex, he said, it might violate one's freedom of expression.

"Cybersex is just like regular sex, as long as it is consensual, then it cannot be restricted. Even if one pays for sex in the Internet, it is just the same as one paying for sex with women at Tionko Avenue. Are we too hypocrite to police those selling sex in the Internet and turn a blind eye to those actually plying the streets. In fact, it is safe because the only virus you might get is in the computer and not the Aids virus," he added.

Meanwhile, he said there is also a need to increase the penalty on child pornography, and impose the capital punishment on those who victimize innocent children.

The Supreme Court (SC) deferred on Tuesday the discussion on the request of seven different petitioners to stop government agencies from implementing the law.

SC acting spokesperson Gleoresty Guerra was quoted as saying that the SC did not issue a TRO in the law against cybercrime petitions "which are up for further study.

Cherry Orendain, Anakbayan regional spokesperson, reacted to the postponement of the cybercrime discussion.

In a media advisory sent through text message, Orendain said the postponement of the deliberation of cybercrime law is a "clear manifestation of political maneuvering of Aquino backed Supreme Court to continue implementation despite strong protest."

"RA 10175 is unconstitutional, bypassing freedom of expression. We call all netizens and citizens to heighten the militancy versus the draconian cybercrime law," she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 03, 2012.

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