Cybercrime Law likely to be declared as unconstitutional

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[/caption] Like a bumbling law student being grilled in a class recitation, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza had a hard time defending the government?s position from SC justices who took turns hurling probing questions in an en banc proceeding. ?It?s constitutional but barely,? Jardeleza said in a desperate tone in response to a question by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who asked if a government?s collection of a traffic data without court order is legal or not. The Solicitor General?s comment prompted Theodore Te, head of the SC?s Public Information Office, to quip in Twitter that ?the phrase of the day has got to be ?constitutional but just barely??. Lawyer Rommel Bagares, who is one of the petitioners against the law, also said in a Facebook post that ?there’s a big chance the High Court will invalidate key provisions of criminal libel in the Revised Penal Code as well, especially Art. 354 and Art. 355, which are foundational to online libel provisions in the new law.? He noted that while ?there was some hesitation on the part of some justices to tackle the Revised Penal Code’s original provisions on libel, but through the incessant and insightful interventions of Justice Carpio, the matter was finally brought to the fore at yesterday’s hearings.? Jardeleza also had to grapple with the incessant questioning from the magistrates who quizzed him on the definition and requirements of ?due cause? as contained in Section 12 of the Cybercrime Law, which pertains for the collection of traffic data. ?What kind of an animal is this and who will identify the animal?? asked Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, noting that ?due cause? as a legal concept appeared vague as stated in the controversial law. Jardeleza conceded: ?This is also our misgiving. We don?t know who will determine due cause for collection of traffic data.? As for the contentious Section 19 of the law which authorizes the Department of Justice to block the websites or computer data even without a court order, the government lawyer said they will just leave it to the high tribunal to decide on its constitutionality. ]]>

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