Statement on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012
The Philippines is again faced with another hasty legislation, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (R.A. 10175), passed with the speed of light, should be given not just a closer look but a downreaching scrutiny. A perusal of the law would warrant a declaration of unconstitutionality for the fact that it curtails basic constitutional rights not only of children but of everyone else who utilizes the cyberspace to connect with the world. The said law also runs against the principle of separation of powers.
For Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) Inc., the law in question obviously infringes on many constitutionally guaranteed rights and principles specifically on the following:
1. It curbs not only one’s right to freedom of expression, speech and press, let alone one’s right to privacy. This pertains to Section 12 of the said law, which actually allows authorities to “collect or record by technical or electronic means” communications transmitted through a computer system”. Authorities can now have access to personal data, listen or record private conversations and correspondences even without a warrant.
Section 12 contravenes the very essence of Art. III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution, particularly Sections 3 (1) on inviolability of privacy of communication, and 4 on freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, and peaceful assembly.
2. This law also criminalizes cyber libel which can be prosecuted apart from that of the traditional libel punishable under the Revised Penal Code, therefore violating the ne bis in idem principle under the general principle of international law or the rule on double jeopardy.
3. A violation of the separation of powers can also be gleaned from the law which gives the Department of Justice much jurisdiction on restricting or blocking access to computer without prior judicial determination for as long as there is prima facie evidence that said computer was used in the commission of any of the prohibited acts under it. This clearly is a function, a power exclusive to the courts and not to the executive. To encroach upon a co-equal branch’s power is not only a violation of the separation of powers but a violation of one’s right to due process.
4. The said law also exhibits vagueness particularly when it comes to the Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) jurisdiction over the acts committed in violation of the former. How can jurisdiction be determined considering that the World Wide Web or internet is so far reaching that it can even be used outside the Philippine jurisdiction. More so, how are we to determine an act that is in violation of the law from that of a casual or ordinary conversation not to mention that a mere posting of libelous comments on social media appears also to be punishable.
No right is absolute indeed but it is also guaranteed by our very Constitution that no person shall be deprived of his or her right to life, liberty and property with out due process of law and under this instance, under this law, due process is not complied with, thus it should be declared unconstitutional.
In the Philippines, there are still many crimes that needs more attention like enforced disappearance, torture, extra-legal killings, human trafficking – – these are non-derogable rights that should not be relegated to the sidelines and must be looked into. The enactment of RA 101275 reflects the government’s alleged inattention and apathy to the reigning culture of impunity, the reason why disappearance, torture, trafficking, extra-legal killings remain unbridled and no perpetrators are brought to justice, so to speak.
We call on our fellow rights defenders to remain vigilant as we call on our government to respect constitutionally guaranteed rights and repeal RA 10175.
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