Justice chief: Anti-cybercrime law will protect netizens’ rights-A A +A
Monday, October 1, 2012
MANILA -- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the only Cabinet secretary who stands to be empowered more under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, gave assurance on Sunday that constitutional rights of netizens will be protected in the implementation of the new law.
Five petitions have been filed last week at the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the last of which was filed by lawyer Harry Roque on Friday.
De Lima was among the respondents named in the petitions, which are set to be tackled by SC justices on Tuesday.
But de Lima, in a statement, said that she will exercise the powers granted to her by the law judiciously and prudently.
“Any power or authority granted by the law to Department of Justice and secretary of Justice will be exercised judiciously and prudently, within the standards or parameters set forth in the law and with due regard to fundamental, human rights of individuals,” she said.
De Lima, who arrived in the weekend from a forum on human rights in Washington, DC, was chair of the Commission on Human Rights during the Arroyo administration, before she was tapped to head the DOJ by President Aquino in 2010.
Under Section 19 of RA 10175, de Lima will have the authority to restrict or block access to computer data found to have prima facie violation of cybercrimes defined in the same law.
Notwithstanding the mounting legal protests against and the admission of some senators of the flaws of the law, she said her office will implement the anti-cybercrime act.
“As part of the executive branch, the role of DOJ and SOJ is simply to execute the laws of the land. We did not make that law, which should and ought to be deemed constitutional, unless otherwise declared by the SC,” she said.
Aside from Roque, the other petitioners are
businessman Louis Biraogo, the group Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM), cyberlaw experts led by lawyer Jose Jesus Disini, and Senator Teofisto Guingona III, who was the lone senator who had opposed the passage of the cybercrime bill in the Senate.
Petitioners are one in denouncing Sections 4(c), 5, 7, 12, and 19 of the controversial law, saying these infringe the rights to freedom of speech and expression, as well as have vague provisions on libel, which in effect criminalizes an online show of public opinion.
They further assailed the undue delegation of powers to the DOJ Secretary insofar as it violates the constitutional principle of separation of powers between the courts and the executive, as well as violates the citizen’s right against unauthorized searches and seizures.
Outrage over the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act continues as a youth party-list group will go to the Supreme Court on Monday to file a petition seeking to declare unconstitutional some provisions on the new law that allegedly violate freedom of expression.
Among the early signatories to the petition for prohibition are Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino, ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio, University of the Philippines (UP) Student Regent Cleve Arguelles, Philippine Collegian editor-in-chief Katherine Elona, and UP College of Mass Communication Dean Roland Tolentino.
Just like other groups, Kabataan is opposing Section 19 of Republic Act 10175, which authorizes the DOJ to impose a total access ban on social networking sites in the future.
Section 19 states, “When a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data.” (ECV/Virgil Lopez/JCV/Sunnex)