Cybercrime Prevention Act of the Philippines…A Law that Backfired : A Timeline (Part I – Deliberations in Congress)

Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Law of the Philippines is an amalgamation of past bills proposed. There were loopholes and deficiencies in past laws related to cybercrime, and it was imperative to have them amended, or have new laws enacted. The Cybercrime Prevention Law originated from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, based on House Bill No. 5808 and Senate Bill No. 2796, respectively.

The following timeline shows the evolvement of the Cybercrime Prevention Law, in its deliberation in Congress.

Senate Deliberations

May 11, 2011

Senate approves the transfer of Committee Report No. 30 on Senate Bill No. 2796 from the Calendar for Ordinary Business to the Calendar for Special Orders and is approved on Second Reading without any objections. Senator Edgardo Angara sponsors Senate Bill No. 2796. In his speech he cites the need for enacting said Senate Bill. The Bill is discussed on the plenary level where Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri also gives a speech on the need to enact a cybercrime law. Senator Loren Legarda co-sponsors the bill. House Bill No. 2796 is thereafter is entitled:

September 12, 2011

Senate Bill No. 2796 is deliberated on Second Reading. Senator Angara is acknowledged as the main sponsor of the measure, which was interpellated by Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Tito Sotto. Among the Sections of the bill being discussed were the jurisdiction of cybercrimes committed outside the Philippines, which is not a signatory to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.

December 12, 2011

The Chair recognizes Senator Angara for the sponsorship of Senate Bill No. 2796, and is interpellated by Senators Sotto, Teofisto Guingona, Aquilino Pimentel. The more important provisions of the bill were discussed such as punishment for all types of cybercrimes such cyberterrorism. And internet libel/defamation and cyberpornography and child exploitation.
December 13, 2011
Senator Angara is recognized anew for the sponsorship of Senate Bill No. 2796, and was interpellated by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile over the legal definition of the various crimes stated.

January 24, 2012

The Chair recognized anew Senator Angara’s sponsorship of Senate Bill No. 2796 and requested that he be given sufficient time as he was awaiting the Senate Secretariat’s submission of all the proposed, individual amendments incorporated in the committee report, for review by the Body.
Individual amendments to Senate Bill No. 2796 were discussed and clarified. The following general amendments were approved by the Senate body:

1.The definitions of a Computer, Critical Infrastructure and Cybersecurity were inserted;

2. The words “DELETION” and “DETERIORATION” were included in the definition of “Data Interference”;

3. Cybersquatting was included and defined.

4. A new definition of Cybersex is inserted, which is the wilful engagement, operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity utilizing a computer system for favour or consideration.
Senator Guingona expressed his concern that the definition of Cybersex
which meant prior restraint might violate the Constitution. Senator Angara said that it did not impose such restraints and requested him to hear the individual amendments first then revert to his concern later.

Senator Pia Cayetano requested to be given time to make sure that the bill’s definition of child pornography is consistent with Repubic Act (RA) No. 9775.
Senator Angara explained that the proposed amendment would not conflict with the definition of child pornography on the bill and that of RA 9775.

7. Provisions for penalties and /or fines imposed upon persons guilty under Section 4 A.5, that is, punishable acts committed against critical infrastructure inserted.

8. Law enforcement authorities, upon securing a court warrant are given the power to collect or record real-time traffic of data.

Senator Angara remarked that the new definition of “Cybersex” was precisely in response to the reservation of Senators Guingona and Defensor Santiago over the word “arousal” which they considered as subjective. The phrase “favor” or “consideration” be retained for this was the heart of cybercrime, where such acts were done for money, consideration or favor. He questioned why this definition would imply prior restraint.

Senator Guingona argued that said definition is left for the judge to interpret, is too broad, and is tantamount to legislating morality. He suggested that the section be deleted, being inconsistent with the Constitution.

Senator Angara disagreed, and argued that deleting said section would imply that the Body is not in agreement that cybersex, one of the common crimes committed against children, is considered a crime. Inspite of this, the definition was still retained due to children’s computer usage exposure to unregulated and non-criminalized activities.

Senator Defensor Santiago proposed the following amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Law as a Body, and this was accepted by Senator Angara and the rest of their colleagues.

9. While Sections 4(A) and (B) of the Act define offenses as applying to computer data/systems, including emails and social networks. This justified the insertion of the words “WHETHER STORED IN A LOCAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS OR ONLINE.

10. Damage and fraudulent intent is not for economic gain but with the purpose of destruction. Therefore, the phrase “WITH FRAUDULENT INTENT” was substituted for “economic gains.”

11. A new paragraph, Section 9, was inserted where the requirements for the issuance of a court warrant be issued/ granted upon written application/affirmation and examination under oath of applicant/produced witnesses and evidences. As observed by Senator Santiago, the section lacks the parameters to ensure that this will be subject to abuse by law enforcers. She proposed that Section 3 of RA 4200 (Anti-Wire Tapping Law) serve as a guide in setting the parameters.

Senator Lacson asked whether the definition of “cybersex” covers phone sex, Senator Angara said that doing so might be outside what is permissible.

Senator Sotto added that it was difficult to classify the telephone as part of the computer system. He also cited various abuses in video/photo uploading, unnecessary write-ups/comments in social networking systems, citing Supreme Court cases of Mendez vs. Court of Appeals (GR No. 124491, June 1, 1999), and n Lacsa vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (G. R. No. 74907, May 23, 1988), relative to libel. Libel in cyber-space could further promote the “think before you click” mentality, and cybercrimes were not covered by Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.

As proposed, and accepted by the Sponsor, the Senate Body approved the insertion of a new paragraph entitled:

12.”Libel – as defined in said Senate Bill as the unlawful act as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, committed through a computer system or any other similar means.
Senator Angara pointed out that cyberspace, a new medium for publishing libellous statements is subject to prosecution and punishment as defined by Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.
Senate Bill No. 2796 was approved on Second Reading.

January 30, 2012

Senate Bill No. 2796 was approved on Third Reading. Senate Secretary Emma L. Reyes called the roll for the bill’s nominal voting. The result of the voting was as follows:
Those In Favour : Senators Pia Cayetano, Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Francis Joseph Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Aquilino
Pimentel III, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla Jr., Tito Sotto, Manuel Villar (13 Senators)

Those Against : Senator Teofisto Guingona Jr. (1 Senator)

Abstentions : None

Due to his libertarian views on the matter, Senator Guingona explained his vote against the bill mainly because of cybersex’s definition as violating constitutional principles of freedom of speech and expression. He also said that the bill sets the country back, instead of moving forward in the 21st century.

House Deliberations

February 9, 2012

House Bill No. 5808 was filed at the Calendaring and Registration Group, Bills and Index Service, with its full title entitled as:

“An Act defining Cybercrime, Providing for the Prevention, Investigation, Suppression and the Imposition of Penalties Therefor and for other Purposes,” which was principally authored by Representative Susan A. Yap and 34 co-author-House Members namely:

Daryl Grace J. Abayon, Romeo M. Acop, Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Tomas V. Apacible, Ma. Rachel J. Arenas, Ma. Amelita A. Calimbas-Villarosa, Winston “Winnie” Castelo, Antonio A. Del Rosario, Diosdado JM M. Arroyo, Mary Mitzi L. Cajayon, Anthony Rolando T. Golez Jr., Roilo S. Golez, Bernadette R. Herrera-Dy, Carmelo F. Lazatin, Roy M. Loyola, Gloria A. M. Macapagal-Arroyo, Juan Miguel “Mikey” Macapagal-Arroyo, Eulogio “Amang” R. Magsaysay, Hermilando I. Mandanas, Romero Federico “Miro” S.
Quimbo, Maximo B. Rodriguez Jr., Rufus B. Rodriguez, Pedro P. Romualdo,
Cesar V. Sarmiento, Mel Senen S. Sarmiento, Eric G. Singson Jr., Ma. Victoria
R. Sy-Alvarado, Marcelino R. Teodoro, Irwin C, Tieng, Sigfrido R. Tinga, Jerry
P. Treñas, Mariano Michael M. Velarde Jr., Joseph Gilbert F. Violago, Luis R.

February 13, 2012

The Committee on Information and Communications Technology submitted
Committee Report No. 1818, relative to House Bill No. 5808, recommending its
approval. House Bill No. 5808 was substituted for the consolidated ten bills
previously filed in the House of Representatives, which were: House Bill Nos. 85,
167, 364, 383, 511, 1444, 2279, 3376, 4031, and 4162. Representative Sigfrido R.
Tinga sponsors House Bill No. 5808 at the plenary session.
May 9, 2012
On motion of Representative Janette L. Garin, the House of Representatives
considers on Second Reading House Bill No. 5808, contained in Committee
Report No. 1818 and reported by the Committee on Information and
Communications Technology. Upon direction of the Chair, Secretary General
Marilyn B. Barua-Yap read the title of the bill as:

“An Act defining Cybercrime, providing for the prevention,
investigation, suppression and the imposition of penalities
therefor and for other purposes.”

The Chair recognized Representative Sigfrido R. Tinga to sponsor said House
Bill, and Representative Raymond V. Palatino to interpellate theron. As
Members received copies of the distributed House Bill, Representative Mylene
J. Garcia-Albano motioned to dispense with the reading of the text. Representatives
Raymond V. Palatino, in his interpellation, reported his discussion with
Representative Sigfrido R. Tinga, previous cybercrime bills filed with respect
to cybersex. Sections 10 and 12 of the bill, which requires a court warrant before
collection, record of data, and disclosure by law enforcement agencies, is similar
to that of the Senate version of the bill. Other significant amendments discussed
were the clarification on cybersex operations, the categories/maganitude/examples
of cybercrime offenses, the Bill as part of President Aquino III’s legislative agenda.
The rest of the House Members thereafter discussed computer-related offenses
as the criminalization of the most common type of cybercrimes in the country.
Representative Tinga stressed that amendments to the E-Commerce Act
(Republic Act No. 8792) as insufficient for law enforcers to pursue cybercriminals.

Representative Palatino proposed to expand the scope of said law such as its
applicability to include recent cybercrimes committed. They discussed the
justification for the inclusion of cyberthreats and cyberdefamation as offenses
under Section 4 of the said bill, including case filing procedures and safeguard
measures in the issuance of search warrants, as mentioned in Section 10. He
also proposed amending Section 5 of the bill. All of which was agreed upon by
Representative Tinga. Representative Antonio L. Tinio questioned the extent and
scope of the said House Bill, after which, he discussed with Representative Tinga
its applicability on criminal activities involving computer usage, systems and other
similar technologies. The rest of the House Members discussed the bill’s
applicability to the prosecution of cybercrimes, which will not in any way
repeal the Anti-Wiretapping Act (Republic Act No. 4200), or amend the Human
Security Act (Republic Act No. 9372); and the retention of traffic data for a limited
time by service providers, in compliance with Article XVI of the Budapest
Convention was also discussed. House Bill No. 5808 was approved on Second
Reading without any objections.

May 21, 2012

House Bill No. 5808 was the 88th house bill approved on Third Reading.
All 211 House Members voted for its approval, with no objections and
abstentions. They were the following (Surnames only):
Abad, Abaya, Abayon, Acop, Aggabao, Agyao, Albano, Almario, Almonte,
Alvarez (A.), Andaya, Angping, Antonio, Apacible, Apostol, Aquino, Arago,
Arenas, Arnaiz, Arquiza, Arroyo (D.), Asilo, Aumentado, Bagasina, Bagatsing,
Balindong, Banal, Bataoil, Batocabe, Bautista, Bello, Belmonte (F.), Belmonte (V.),
Benitez, Bichara, Binay, Bulut-Begtang, Cabaluna, Cabilao Yambao, Cagas, Calimbas-
Villarosa, Calixto-Rubiano, Canonigo, Casiño, Castro, Catamco, Celeste, Cerafica,
Cerilles, Co, Cojuangco (K.), Cojuangco (E.), Collantes, Cosalan, Cruz-Gonzales,
Cua, Dalog, Datumanong, Dayanghirang, Daza, De Venecia, Defensor, Del Mar,
Del Rosario (A. A.), Del Rosario (A. G.), Dimaporo (I.), Duavit, Dy, Ebdane, Ejercito,
Emano, Eriguel, Escudero, Espina, Estrella, Fabian, Ferrer (A.), Ferrer (J.),
Ferriol, Flores, Fortuno, Fua, Fuentebella, Fuentes, Garay, Garbin, Garcia (A.),
Garcia (P.), Garcia (P.J.), Garin (J.), Gatchalian, Go (A.C.), Go (A.), Golez (A.),
Golez (R.), Gonzales (A.), Gonzales (N.), Gonzalez, Guanlao, Gullas, Gunigundo,
Haresco, Herrera-Dy, Ilagan, Jaafar, Jalosjos (S.), Javier, Joson, Kho (A.), Kho (D.),
Labadlabad, Lacson-Noel, Lagdameo (A.), Lagdameo (M.), Lapus, Lazatin, Leonen-
Pizarro, Lico, Loong, Lopez (C.), Lopez (C.J.), Loyola, Madrona, Magsaysay (E.),
Maliksi, Mandanas, Marcoleta, Marcos, Mariano, Matugas, Mellana, Mendoza (J.),
Mendoza (M.), Mendoza (R.), Mercado (H.), Mercado (R.), Miraflores, Montejo,
Noel, Obillo, Ocampo, Ocampos, Olivarez, Ong, Ortega (F.), Ortega (V.), Osmeña,
Padilla, Paez, Palatino, Palmones, Pancho, Pangandaman (N.), Panotes, Paras,
Payuyo, Piamonte, Pichay, Ping-ay, Ponce-Enrile, Puno, Quisumbing,
Radaza, Ramos, Relampagos, Rivera, Robes, Rodriguez (I.), Rodriguez (M.),
Rodriguez (R.), Roman, Romarate, Romualdez, Romualdo, Romulo, Sacdalan,
Sakaluran, Salvacion, Sambar, San Luis, Sarmiento (C.), Sarmiento (M.), Sema,
Singson (E.), Singson (R.L.), Socrates, Suarez, Sy-Alvarado, Tan, Teodoro, Teves,
Tieng, Tinga, Tinio, Tomawis, Treñas, Tugna, Ty, Umali (R.), Unabia, Ungab, Unico,
Valencia, Velarde, Velasco, Vergara, Villafuerte, Villarica, Yap (A.), Yu, Zubiri

Note: The next part of this blog deals with the Bicameral Conference Committee
Report on the Proposed Amendments to House and Senate Bills Nos. (5808 and
2796, respectively), and the Presidential approval of the Cybercrime Prevention
Law (RA 10173).

Related Links:

I. Legislative Issuances

A. Acts of the Philippine Commission
1. ACT No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code (Online Official Gazette)

B. Republic Acts
1. Republic Act No. 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act
(Only Hard Copy Available)
Official Gazette Volume 62, No. 20,
Page 3350,
(Issue date: May 16, 1966)

2. Republic Act No. 8792 or the Electronic Commerce
(E-Commerce ) Act
(Only Hard Copy Available)
Official Gazette Supplement Volume 94,
No. 32, page 51,
(Issue date: August 10, 1998)

3. Republic Act No. 9372 (Human Security Act)
(Only Hard Copy Available)
Official Gazette Volume 103, No. 17,
Page 2223
(Issue date: April 23, 2007)

4. Republic Act No. 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act
of 2009)
(Only Hard Copy Available)
Official Gazette Volume 106, No. 6,
Page 746
(Issue date: February 8, 2010)

5. Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Law of 2012)

a. House and Senate Bills on Republic Act No. 10175
(On-line Sources):
A. Text of Bills
Note: Scroll and Click “HB05808 [Text as engrossed…] “
1. Senate Bill No. 2796
2. House Bill No. 5808

B. Deliberations
1. Senate Deliberations (Senate Bill No. 2796)
a. For the Record: Public records of Senate Deliberations on the
Cybercrime Prevention Bill: September 12, 2011, December 12,
2011, December 13, 2011,
b. January 24, 2012, and January 30, 2012 Timelines

2. House Deliberations (House Bill No. 5808)
a. February 9, 2012, History of Bills

Note: Scroll and Click HB05808 [History]

3. February 13, 2012, House Journal No. 36, page 39)

4. May 9, 2012, House Journal No. 49,
pages 19-20

5. May 21, 2012 House Journal No. 50,
page 37 (approval), pages 38-40 (votation)

II. Supreme Court Cases

A. Supreme Court Case: Lacsa vs. Intermediate Appeallate Court
(G. R. No. 74907, May 23, 1988)

B. Supreme Court Case: Mendez vs. Court of Appeals
(G. R. No. 124491, June 1, 1999)

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