Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime Law Stopped

Date: October 09, 2012
By: Madel R. Sabater

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC), in a unanimous vote of 14 justices on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped for 120 days the implementation of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Protection Act of 2012.

The TRO becomes effective once a copy is officially served by the SC on agencies tasked to implement the law, particularly the Department of Justice (DoJ), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Office of the President.

Within the 120-day period, the SC is expected to decide on the alleged unconstitutionality of several provisions in the new law that was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on September 12.

During the period of the TRO, the petitions before the SC may be declared moot and academic should Congress pass the amendments that would address directly and settle definitively the issues that made the new law controversial.

The SC, in its regular full court session, also set oral arguments on the cases on January 15, 2013.

It acted on the 15 petitions filed against the law that took effect on October 3.

The 15 petitions were consolidated into one case and raffled to Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., who also wrote the decisions on the Hacienda Luisita case that ordered the actual distribution of the hacienda land to the farmers, and the forfeiture/reconveyance in favor of the government for use of the country’s coconut farmers about P100 billion in shares of stocks of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) that were bought out of the coconut levy.

MalacaƱang said it respects the decision of the Supreme Court to issue a TRO on the cybercrime law.

“The administration will always respect the due processes that are issued by the court,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, adding that the Palace would like to see the contents of the TRO first.

“Again, a TRO is a provisional remedy, it is not in any way construed as a judgment on the merits,” Valte said.

Reacting to the TRO, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said:

“The DoJ operates under the framework of the rule of law. The SC TRO is an exercise of the power of judicial review. We respect and abide by it.

“We will present formally before the High Court in due time the arguments outlined in the historic forum on cybercrime held earlier by the DoJ.

“Our advocacy for a safe cyberspace and interdiction of organized crime will continue.”

As the SC justices started its full court session that lasted until about 1:30 p.m. yesterday, more than 200 protesters blocked Padre Faura Street in Ermita, Manila while waiting for the High Court’s ruling.

The 15 petitions filed against RA 10175 enumerated identical provisions they claimed as unconstitutional and violative of the citizens’ fundamental and basic rights.

Among these provisions are Section 4 (c) 4 that criminalizes libel, not only on the Internet, but also on “any other similar means which may be devised in the future;” Section 5 (b) that punishes those who attempt, aide or abet the commission of a cyber offense; Section 6 that raises by one degree higher the penalties provided for by the Revised Penal Code for all crimes committed through and with the use of information and communications;

Section 7 that provides that, apart from prosecution under the law, any person charged for the alleged offense covered will not be spared from violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws; Section 12 that authorizes the real-time collection of traffic data; Section 13 that authorizes law enforcement authorities to collect or record, by technical or electronic means, traffic data in real-time;

Section 15 that authorizes law enforcement authorities to search, seize and examine computer data; Section 17 that authorizes service providers and law enforcement agencies to “completely destroy the computer data subject of a preservation and examination” order; and Section 19 that authorizes the DOJ to block access to computer data when such data “is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act.”

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