TRO welcomed, but groups want it permanent

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

VARIOUS groups in Davao City welcomed Tuesday the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on the implementation of the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

"A tactical victory for the vigilant people and netizens who value our rights to free speech, expression and press; to due process; and privacy," Juland Suazo, spokesperson for Panalipdan, said in a media advisory sent through SMS.

"The credit goes to people's movement both online and offline," he added.


In an interview over TV Patrol-Southern Mindanao on Tuesday afternoon, Stella A. Estremera, Sun.Star Davao editor-in-chief, said Davao City-based journalists are against the implementation of the law as its provision on libel is not defined well.

"Dahil sa pagkakalagay niya doon sa cybercrime, napaka arbitrary ang pagkapasok niya. Hindi nga siya defined eh. Buti pa sa Revised Penal Code, nakadefine siya anong publication and requirements para maging crime siya. Dito nakasulat lang na under siya sa Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code na kulang naman ang definition," she said.

Estremera said that even with such vague definition, it has a penalty higher than what is stated in the Revised Penal Code.

Moreso, the law was made without any consultation and it suppresses the "constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression."

Despite the issuance of the TRO, she said educating the public will still proceed to protect basic civil rights, that these should not be suppressed by anyone.

"Sana sabay-sabay tayong maintindihan ano talaga sinasabi natin na suppression sa basic rights at bakit tayo hindi pumapayag na ipagpatuloy nga itong cybercrime prevention law na ito," Estremera said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Davao echoed the same sentiment.

"We owe it to the people who have stood up for their rights, for being defiant, not backing down to such machinations of authorities to wrest away from the people whatever is left of their hard-won freedoms." Jessie Casalda, NUJP-Davao chair, said in a statement e-mailed to Sun.Star Davao on Tuesday.

"With the Cybercrime Act, those in power can silence their critics by slapping them with online libel. Just like politicians using libel against journalists, they can and will use this Act to attack citizens," he added.

In an en banc decision, the SC stopped Tuesday the implementation of the Republic Act 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) for 120 days.

The 14 High Court justices issued the TRO after a total of 15 petitions were filed before the SC, citing certain provisions in the law that violate the 1987 Philippine Constitution on freedom of speech, right to privacy, double jeopardy and among others.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-DMR) also hailed the issuance of the TRO, but also called on the SC "to make this TRO a permanent one."

"We rejoice with the Filipino workers and people over the Supreme Court's issuance of a TRO against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012," said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary general.

"We call on the Filipino workers and people to continue to join and support the protests against the Cybercrime Law until it is completely junked," he added.

Malacañang, on the other hand, said they have yet to see and read the TRO to find the specific provisions that were stopped.

"The administration will always respect the legal processes that are issued by the court," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, lawyer Elly Velez Lao Pamatong filed complaints before the City Prosecutor’s Office against Gabby Lopez III, owner of ABS-CBN, for allegedly publishing an article, written by a certain Purple Romero, on the Internet that has maligned his reputation as a lawyer and a religious minister.

Pamatong quoted a part of the article as: "He has done outrageous things -- from suing Pope Benedict to scattering spikes on Edsa in 2004, which damaged a hundred cars, after he was declared a nuisance candidate in the presidential elections."

He said a caricature of him was also published on the Internet with the word “Maligno.” He accused Lopez as the one who branded him that.

Pamatong filed the complaint on October 8.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 10, 2012.

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