Anti-cybercrime law is not perfect, Palace admits-A A +A
Friday, October 5, 2012
MANILA -- Malacañang admitted Thursday that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 has several defects, but said the law's implementation could not be stopped and its flaws can only be addressed through amendments.
"(It) is not perfect," said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
"We believe that since there has already been a clamor and you have seen that our position from the very start is: If you want to refine the law, you want to amend the law, well and good. These are provisions which you find objectionable primarily on the penalty on libel, on the takedown clause, then amend it," he added.
Lacierda said there are two ways to amend the controversial law. One is by questioning the law before the courts, and the other one is through Congress amending the objectionable provisions.
He said the Palace respects both avenues.
Malacañang is not keen on suggestions to repeal the law, saying the bulk of it primarily deals with addressing cybercrime, which is not punishable under a law before.
Lacierda said they are leaving it up to the lawmakers to make the appropriate amendments to law "based on the concerns raised by the public."
However, he added that the communications group led by Secretary Ramon Carandang might also suggest own amendments to Republic Act (RA) 10175 during the consultation in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations by the Department of Justice scheduled on October 9.
The consultation will be open to the media.
"We hope that the consultation will clear the waters on questionable provisions of the law," he said.
Among the controversial provisions of the law is the insertion of online libel, which has stiffer penalties than that provided under the Revised Penal Code.
Another is Section 19 or the "takedown clause," which empowers the Justice Secretary to shut down websites with harmful contents.
Lacierda said the President could not stop the implementation of the law since the Executive is tasked to execute a law.
He said the ball is in the legislative if they decide to adopt a joint resolution to postpone the law's implementation.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima echoed Lacierda's statement in turning down the call of Senator Edgardo Angara to suspend the implementation of a provision in RA 10175.
De Lima said Angara's suggestion is easier said than done, considering that the mandate of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is to enforce the law.
"No legislator can unilaterally ask for a suspension of a law, nor can we decide to suspend (its implementation)," she said.
What the justice department can do, de Lima said is to clarify the vague provisions in the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR), which is yet to be crafted.
"On the ground, we will just be judicious on first few cases to allay fears of abuse or excesses in the exercise of such power and also to gain (the) trust (of the people)," she said.
Angara, who was the principal author of the controversial law in the Senate, earlier said that concerns raised by netizens on Section 19 of the law may be cured if the DOJ will suspend its application until the necessary amendatory law, which he and other senators who signed RA 10175 will file, has been passed.
Section 19 allows the DOJ to issue an order or restrict or block access to websites found to be in prima facie violation of the provisions of the controversial law. It also allows the justice department to take down or shutdown a website if it had been "hacked."
Angara also allayed fears that a “liker” of a libelous comment in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will also make him or her liable under the controversial law.
Angara clarified that there is misapprehension that Section 24 of the law will send “liker” or “sharer” of the libelous comment to jail.
“This provision is misapprehended. It’s not covered at all,” the senator said.
The lawmaker also said the solution is not to decriminalize the libel provision of the law but to amend the Revised Penal Code, which was the source of the libel provision of the law.
“I’m just saying to those who want to repeal libel provisions in the cybercrime law, that is still ineffective because libel would still be a crime because it is under our basic criminal code,” Angara said.
He also allayed fears by some media practitioners that their rights will be violated by the law.
The senator said he will propose to the DOJ to refrain from issuing such orders until upon approval of the courts.
The DOJ, together with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Science and Technology, are tasked to provide the IRR for the law.
Popular political satirist-blogger Marcelo Landicho, more popularly known in social media as the "Professional Heckler," was among the group of bloggers who filed on Thursday the tenth petition assailing the RA 10175, which they referred to as cyber-Martial Law.
The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance and lawyer Argee Guevarra will also file their own petition before the Supreme Court asking the nullification of certain provisions in RA 10175. (Jill Beltran/JCV/PNA/Sunnex)