DOJ to still receive complaints on cybercrime-A A +A
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) may still entertain complaints regarding alleged crimes committed in the Internet even as the Supreme Court (SC) stopped the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for four months.
But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima quickly clarified that the complaint will be evaluated based on existing laws as a result of the High Court injunction.
"We will apologize to the complainant that we can't act on it in the meantime since the cybercrime law is not yet in effect but we will evaluate the case and check if this is covered under existing laws," she told reporters Wednesday.
For instance, de Lima said the case of a 17-year-old rape victim seeking to stop the proliferation in the Internet of their sex video taken by the suspect may fall under the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.
"I will ask the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to assess possible actions. First to protect her and to safeguard further her dignity," she said.
Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, who faced bloggers and information technology experts on Tuesday, earlier pitched the need for a cybercrime law in light of the said complaint they received on October 2.
With the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) now on hold, de Lima said they will continue to reassure the public that the law won't step on human rights.
"We will still undertake awareness raising campaign to educate the people on the salient features of the law and to explain to them that there is nothing to worry in the implementation of the law," she said.
Fifteen individuals and groups filed separate petitions against the new law assailing the authority given to the DOJ secretary to block access to computer data and the imposition of higher penalties for online libel.
Malacañang, for its part, considers the TRO on the new law as a "temporary setback” in the government's campaign against cybercrimes.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda maintained that the government could address all cybercrimes like cyber fraud, identity fraud, cyber sex and cyber pornography with the controversial measure.
Despite the recent developments on the cybercrime law, the Palace spokesman remains confident that its legal team can address the provision being petitioned in court.
"We have a good legal team in the Palace. We recognize the importance of addressing those cyber crimes and that's why that was emphasized," said Lacierda.
The oral arguments for the highly contested law have been set on January 15, 2013.
Lacierda said the administration could use the 120-day injunction to consolidate amendments on certain contested provisions of the law, including online libel and "takedown" clause.
"I think the 120 days is an opportunity for the legislature to discuss and finalize whatever amendments that they have already voiced out in the public. The Senate has already -- or some senators have already mentioned that they intend to push for some amendments also in the House," he said.
"Amendments will be made to make sure that what made it controversial will be cured or perhaps some of the provisions, which they claim to be needed to have a finer crafting, can be also done," he added.
The influential Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for its part, appealed to lawmakers and other concerned government agencies to make good use of the 120-day court injunction on the cybercrime law.
Members of the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media said it would be good if the period covered by the temporary restraining order will be used for reassessing the contents of the law, especially those being questioned.
"(It should mean) more consultation, more analysis of its implications," Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said.
"That is really necessary so that they can look again on the objective of the law and review it," Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso said.
Petitioners said the new law offends the fundamental freedom of speech and expression, right to due process and equal protection of the law, and right against jeopardy of the internet users and bloggers. (Virgil Lopez/HDT/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)