Cybercrime Law: Guingona goes to SC, Chiz to file amendment

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[/caption] Guingona said he made the petition to correct the ?overly vague and oppressive provisions on libel, which makes a fatal step backwards.? The lawmaker clarified, however, that a cybercrime legislation is necessary in the Philippines. ?Unfortunately, the recently-passed law contains confusing and vague provisions that suppresses the citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression,? he said. Guingona said he is contesting the particular law, first due to its vagueness where there is no limitations against liability,” he said. “Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually, any person can now be charged with a crime — even if you just like, retweet or comment on an online update or blog post containing criticisms. Second, Guingona said the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is unfair because cyber-libel gets graver punishment. It also demonizes technology and sends the message that the computer user is more evil than those who write on traditional media. Punishment for traditional print media libel is up to four years and two months while online libel is punishable by 12-year imprisonment period. Third, Guingona said that this new law is oppressive. A person can be prosecuted for libel under the Revised Penal Code and libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. This is contrary to the 1987 Constitution which protects its people against double jeopardy. Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said during the weekly press forum at the Senate that the particular provision in RA 10175 should be repealed as it runs contrary to his position as a principal author of a bill decriminalizing libel. Sec. 4 Para 4 of the cybercrime prevention law broadens the coverage of libel which now includes those with the use of “computer system or other similar means that may be devised in the future.” The senator said it was a personal oversight on his part that the above clause was inserted in the Committee Report when the Senate voted for its passage. Escudero in 2010 filed SBN 2162 decriminalizing libel to accord greater protection to freedom of speech and expression either those done in writing or other similar means by taking away the threat or fear of incarceration, restraint of liberty and fine. “This move is just being consistent with my original bill to decriminalize libel. At the very least, if at all, libel should just be made a civil liability. If a person is proven to have besmirched someone, let the guilty party pay for damages. But it should be remembered that in libel, proof of the truth is defense.” Escudero reiterated what was stated in SB No. 2162, “that a strong media could give great service to the Filipino people in providing an effective mechanism of complete and fearless transparency over the excesses of government in the exercise of its powers and prerogatives.” ]]>

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