Saturday, July 20, 2024

SC chief: More work needed to improve cybercrime laws in PH

Supreme Court (SC) chief justice Alexander G. Gesmundo said in an overseas speaking engagement that “there is much more work left to be done” in the country even if cybercrime laws have gone a long way in the Philippines.

“The threats and their perpetrators are constantly upgrading; and so, must we and our tools. The crimes they commit continue to recognize no borders; and so, our efforts in response must be as broad and expansive, with all due regard, of course, for the law and the rights of all,” Gesmundo said.

He made the statement during a lecture on “Cybercrime and Our Laws” at the Guam Law Library Legal Education Summit, which coincided with the Judiciary of Guam’s 50th Anniversary Celebration held at the Guam Museum Indoor Theater in Guam on Friday, July 5.

In his lecture, Gesmundo traced the evolution of the Philippine legal framework on cybercrime and cyber-related offenses vis-a-vis decisions promulgated by the SC.

He discussed the first comprehensive cybercrime legislation in the Philippines, Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (CPA), and cited the landmark case of Disini v. Secretary of Justice in relation to the CPA.

“Today, it remains the only case decided by the Supreme Court dealing with the Cybercrime Prevention Act in its entirety,” he noted.

In the Disini case, numerous petitions were filed before the SC by concerned groups after the enactment of the CPA assailing its constitutionality. The petitioners alleged that the law violates the constitutionally granted right to freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, and privacy of communications, as well as constitutional sanctions against double jeopardy, the undue delegation of legislative authority, and unreasonable searches and seizure.

The Supreme Court issued a 50-page decision declaring the CPA valid and constitutional for the most part.

The chief justice likewise mentioned the 2021 case of Cadajas v. People, which discussed the interplay between the right to privacy and access to electronic evidence.

He also shared that the SC’s Special Committee on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence is now hard at work amending the Rules on Cybercrime Warrants, adding that the Department of Justice also created a Technical Working Group for developing the Guidelines on Cybercrime Investigation and Prosecution.

“This will enhance the capacity of the criminal justice sector to handle cybercrime, especially in terms of identifying, preserving, collecting, examining, analyzing, authenticating, and presenting electronic evidence in court,” Gesmundo underscored.

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