PETITION VS CYBERCRIMES LAW AMENDED
The Center for International law and the Southeast Asia Media Defense, counsels for Davao based broadcaster Alexander Adonis, amended yesterday their petition to have the recent Cybercrimes Prevention Act of 2012 declared unconstitutional. In their amended Petition, Centerlaw asked the Supreme Court to expressly declare Art. 355 of the Revised Penal Code providing for the crime of libel also to be unconstitutional. Previously, the Center asked the Court to declare only the provision of the Cybercrimes Prevention Law provision on libel as being unconstitutional.
Prof. H. Harry L. Roque, Jr of Centerlaw and the UP College of Law explained the rationale for the amendment:
“We’ve had to clarify that pursuant to the View of the UN Human Rights Committee in Adonis vs. Republic of the Philippines, libel under the Revised Penal Code is contrary to freedom of expression. In its annual report this year on the Philippines, the UN Human Rights Committee also decried that instead of complying with this view and repeal Art 355 of the RPC, the Philippines even expanded the coverage of libel through the Cyberprevention Act. Hence, its important to have both libel under the RPC and under the new law be declared as illegal., Prior to the amended petition, the petition only asked the Court to indirectly declare the ordinary crime of libel as unconstitutional by implication. Since Art. 355 was reproduced by way of reference in the definition of electronic libel with the additional element that its should have been published electronically, it is incumbent for the Court to also consider the issue of whether ordinary libel is constitutional. The amended was necessary since the law does not favor implied declarations of unconstitutionality”.
Alexander Adonis was detained fro three years upon being convicted for libel in a complaint filed by former Speaker Prospero Nograles. According to the United Nations, Philippine criminal libel is contrary to Art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because it is disproportionate to the ends that it seeks, that is, the protection of privacy of private individuals; and that there are an alternative in the form of civil libel.
Roque expressed the view that those whose right to privacy may be violated by the media after criminal libel is declared unconstitutional or repealed by a law of Congress can still have recourse to a civil case for damages and recourse to the media’s self-regulating mechanisms such as the Philippine Press Institute for the print media and the Kapisanan ng Brodkasters ng Pilipinas for radio and television.
The Adonis Petition against the Cyberprevention Act is the only petition that challenges the constitutionality of libel law in the country. “We’re excited to argue this issue since we believe that there are now changed circumstances to warrant a reversal of previous Supreme Court decisions upholding the legality of libel. Some of this include our ratification of the ICCPR itself and the View of the UN Human Rights Committee”, Roque added.
Here’s the text of the amended petition: http://www.scribd.com/doc/118190190