Cybercrime Prevention Act of the Philippines…A Law that Backfired: A Timeline (Part III (Last Part) – Hackings, Petitions & Other Protests, and the Supreme Court TRO)

October 3, 2012 — this day marks the effectivity of Republic Act No. 10175, popularly known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 of the Philippines. The law was dubbed by critics as Cyber Martial Law because it contains sections that violate the basic constitutional rights of the freedom of speech and expression. Such was the prevailing practice during Martial Law imposed by former President Ferdinand Marcos. It is ironical because the country just commemorated its 40th year anniversary last September 21.
Government websites were hacked, in protest against the law’s effectivity. Among them were that of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Philippine Central Bank), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 3, the Department of Health: Smoke Free Philippines. A total of fifteen petitions were filed by lawyer’s groups, members of the academe, students, and bloggers, prompting the Supreme Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order, and/or Writ of preliminary injunction of 120 days to prevent government from further implementing the law.

The following is a timeline of said events in reaction to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

September 25, 2012

The first petition for a Temporary Restraining order (TRO) was filed with the Supreme Court by Louis “Barok” Biraogo against three specific provisions of the law, namely: a) Section 4 [c], which punishes libel “committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”; b) Section 12, on the other hand, authorizes law enforcers “to collect or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real-time associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system.”; and c) Section 20 lists the penalties for non-compliance with the law. The newly enacted law not only violates the Constitution but also the Anti-Wiretapping Law. The general public, is now subjected to subtle but pervasive State monitoring and control, and is attended with grave abuse and discretion, contravening Sections 3(1) on the inviolability of privacy of communication and 4 on the freedom of speech, the press and peaceful assembly, of Article III or the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution.
The case was entitled LOUIS “BAROK” C. BIRAOGO, Petitioner, versus The NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, Respondents, and filed as Case No. G.R. No. 203299
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Party-list aspirant Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) filed a second petition, urging the Supreme Court to take immediate action on their motion for reconsideration for a temporary restraining order on the said law. Several provisions of the law violate freedom of expression, speech and of the press and are therefore unconstitutional. The unacceptable provisions:
a) cyber libel in Section 4(c)(4),
b) unsolicited advertisement (Section 4(c)(3), the clause that increases by one degree the imprisonment for all crimes under the Revised Penal Code and special penal laws (Section 6), the clause allowing double jeopardy (Section 7), spy provision (Section 12), and blocking clause (Section 19).
The libel provision in the law should be declared null and void because this is outside the nature of the enumerated subject crimes under the Cybercrime Law.The difference between libel and cybercrimes is that the former is committed by means of publication or making it known to the public while the latter is perpetrated by acts that are in nature hidden.
Cybercrimes such as stealing passwords, computer hacking, or gaining access into computer systems or data, stealing PIN codes of computer data, banks accounts and other records for profit, are done in secret. Libel, on the other hand, cannot be committed secretly since it has to be made publicly and one element of such a crime is that it has to be publicized through print or broadcast media.
The case was filed as ALAB NG MAMAMAHAYAG [ALAM], HUKUMAN NG MAMAMAYAN MOVEMENT’ INC., JERRY S. YAP, BERTENI “TOTO” CAUSING, HERNANI Q. CUARE, PERCY LAPID, TRACY CABRERA, RONALDO E. RENTA, CIRILO P. SABARRE JR. and DERVIN CASTRO, et al., Petitioners, versus OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, represented by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES and HOUSE OF REPRESENTA’l’IVES, Respondents, under G. R. No. 203306.

September 26, 2012

Petitioners led by JJ Disini of the UP College of Law, and one other bloggers filed a third petition for a TRO in the Supreme Court, calling the anti-cybercrime law as “reminiscent of a totalitarian state” which permits unregulated and unrestricted censorship. The group argued that:

a) The constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act was violated such as the freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, privacy of communications, double jeopardy, and right against unreasonable searches and seizure, by empowering authorities to block any material accessed on the Internet;

b) Certain provisions make way for “prior restraint, “ by censoring uploaded data prior to filing a case versus the individual uploading such uploaded content, referring to Section 19 of the law, authorizing the Justice Secretary to block any content found to be violating the law “merely at face value (prima facie)”.

The law is contrary to common practice in law wherein conviction of crimes requires evidence to prove that they were committed “beyond reasonable doubt, ” and hinders ordinary citizens to make on-line comments/information.

c) Section 4, relating to online libel was also opposed by the group. Upon commenting on public officials online, the law may cause people not to hush up for fear of being sued.

This provision on the other hand, will enable netizens to be more responsible in making online comments/opinions.

d) The law allows the accused to be tried in the same manner as trying a person committing the crime of libel in traditional media, with greater penalties, which is a case of double jeopardy.

e) Section 12 of the law is also being contested, in which the NBI and the PNP are allowed to collect real-time traffic data “with due cause” in the absence of a court order.

The unwarranted authority by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to engage in wholesale surveillance of all online data and communications, including mobile data, is a violation of the right from unreasonable searches/seizure, and privacy of communications. This could be used for 24/7 surveillance, which is worse than the Human Security Act where even the rights of terrorists are protected. There is a need for a court to oversee such activities.

Meanwhile, some individuals who are for the cybercrime law believe that collecting real-time data is for the purpose of tracking down and punishing text scams.

The case is filed in the Supreme Court as JOSE JESUS M. DISINI, .JR.,
ROWENA S. DISINI, LIANNE IVY P. MEDINA, JANETTE TORAL and
ERNESTO SONIDO, JR., Petitioners, versus SECRETARY OF JUSTICE,
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND GOVERNMENT, DIRECTOR OF INIFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY OFFICE, CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE and DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL
BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, Respondents, as G. R. No. 203335.

September 27, 2012

A fourth petition for certiorari and prohibition, with an application for a Temporary Restraining Order, was filed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, asking the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the law. The Senator argued that certain provisions are unconstitutional. In his 39-page petition, he argued that:
a) Section 6 of the law, denies the equal protection clause for online libel and libel done through the traditional media.
b) Section 7 provides that prosecution under said law shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision in the Revised Penal Code, which is “contrary to the constitutional provision of double jeopardy.”
c) Section 19 of the law which authorizes the Department of Justice unrestricted authority to restrict or block access to computer data “would be found prima facie in violation of the Cybercrime Law”
d) Sections 4, 6, 7 and 19 were considered too vague and violated the freedom of speech.

The law might be used to curtail the freedom of expression which will scare off many internet users.

A law’s validity should apply equally to all classes of members. He was referring to the libel provision of the law. In the Philippine Constitution, searches and seizures should be based on the determination of a probable cause by a judge. He was not against the whole cybercrime law because crimes such as hacking could be prosecuted.

Guingona petitioned the Supreme Court to conduct oral arguments so both sides of the issue could be heard. If approved, the Senator intends to conduct consultations and make future amendments to the law.

The case was filed in the Supreme Court under SENATOR TEOFISTO DL GUINGONA III, Petitioner, versus EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, SECRETARY OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, CHIEF OF NATIONAL POLICE and DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, Respondents,as G. R. No. 203359.

September 28, 2012

Journalists, bloggers and lawyers jointly filed a fifth petition in the Supreme Court seeking the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the concerned government authorities in implementing the unconstitutional provisions” of the law, including the disbursement of funds for the purpose.
Petitioners Alexander Adonis (radio broadcaster), Ellen Tordesillas (journalist, blogger), Ma. Gisela Ordenes-Cascolan (Vera Files writer, blogger), and Attorneys Harry Roque, Romel Bagares and Gilbert Andres argued that the assailed law contains unconstitutional provisions, namely:
a) Sec. 4 (c) [4], which criminalizes libel, not only on the internet, but also on “any
other similar means which may be devised in the future;”

b) Sec. 5, which identifies also identifies the following as violations of the law: (a) aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime, and (b) attempt in the commission of cybercrime;

Both Sections 4 and 5 “violate the constitutional right to freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

c) Sec. 6, which 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, which violates the equal protection clause provided in the Constitution, since it “arbitrarily increases the penalty imposed on ‘cybel libel’ as compared to the penalty for ordinary libel — without any valid legal basis for such a higher penalty.”

d) Sec. 7, that provides that apart from prosecution under the assailed law, any person charged for the alleged offense covered will not be spared from violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws; and violates the right against double jeopardy, also enshrined in the Constitution, they claimed.

e) Sec. 19, which 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,” which
violates the constitutional principle of separation of powers by “delegating to the DOJ” what should be the function of the courts
The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has so held its view on Adonis vs. Republic of the Philippines, that libel, as stated in the Revised Penal Code, is incompatible with the freedom of expression.
Any prosecution for libel is a continuing violation of Philippine law. Adonis has gone to the United Nations, after having been found guilty on the charge of libel slapped by former House Member Prospero C. Nograles, having been imprisoned for 2 years.
The case was filed in the Supreme Court as G. R. No. 203378, entitled ALEXANDER ADONIS, ELLEN TORDESILLAS, MA. GISELA ORDENES-CASCOLAN, II, HARRY L. ROQUE, .JR., ROMEL R. BAGARES and GILBERT T. ANDRES, Petitioners, versus The EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, The DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, The DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, The DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, The NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, The PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE and The INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY OFFICE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOI,OGY, Respondents.

October 1, 2012

Kabataan partylist Representative Raymond Palatino, Professor Carl Marc Ramota of the University of the Philippines-Manila Department of Social Sciences, Dean Rolando Tolentino of the UP College of Mass Communications, bloggers Katrina Stuart Santiago, Victor Villanueva and representatives from different research and media outfits Tudla Media Productions, Crispin Beltran Research Center, et. al., petitioned the Supreme Court to nullify sections of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act which they deemed vague and violate the freedom of expression and privacy of communication.
They argued that Sections 4(c)4, 5, 6 and 7, which includes online libel as a cybercrime and increases penalties for all crimes in the Revised Penal Code are ambiguous because they failed to specify the penalties for online libel and distinguish communications made through a “computer system” and “information and communications technology.”
This provision will most definitely give law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out the law’s provisions, and produce a chilling effect on legitimate and protected speech.
They added that the following provisions of Chapter IV of the law, dealing with the collection and disclosure of data, are unconstitutional. They are:
a) Section 12, which allows real-time collection of traffic data, allegedly violates the right to privacy of communications;
b) Sections 13 and 17, authorizing the preservation of data, and allowing the destruction of the same, respectively, deprives citizens of their right to due process because they are not provided due notice; the “opportunity to be heard as to why their stored data is being order preserved or destroyed;
c) Section 15, allowing the search, seizure and examination of computer data violates the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure;
d) Section 19, empowering the Department of Justice the power to issue an order to restrict or block access to computer data that are prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of the law violates the freedom of expression and speech;
They argued that the law, signed by President Benigno Aquino III on September 12, which takes effect on Wednesday, October 3, makes them criminally liable for the articles they have posted online.
This is the sixth petition to be filed against the Cybercrime Prevention Act. The case was filed as G. R. No. 203391 entitled HON. RAYMOND V. PALATINO, HON. ANTONIO TINIO, VENCER, MARl CRISOSTOMO of ANAKBAYAN, MA. KATHERINE ELONA of the Philippine Collegian, ISABELLE THERESE BAGUISI of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, et al., Petitioners, versus HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, .JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary and alter-ego of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, and HON. LEILA DE LIMA, in her capacity as Secretary of Justice, Respondents.
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On the same day, National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and militant groups sucha as the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan, Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Karapatan, Courage and Anakpawis petiitoned the Supreme Court to declare the Anti-Cybercrime Law as unconstitutional, and to stop Malacañang from implementing the law, which they termed as a “Machiavellian” measure that violates press freedom.
They argued that Sections 4(a)(3), 4(b)(3), 4(c)(4), 5(a)(b), 6, 7, 12, 17, 19, and 20 of the law are intended to restrict acts that are protected by the 1987 Constitution which penalize online libel, cybercrime through data interference, abetting cybercrimes. It grants the Department of Justice the power to shut down sites that contain harmful content based on prima facie evidence.
“Any Filipino citizen who is a computer user utilizing mobile phones, emails, social media or anything that is related to cyberspace is a marked target of the law.
This is the seventh petition to be filed against the Cybercrime Prevention Act, filed as G. R. No. 203407, entitled Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General RENATO M. REYES JR., National Artist BIENVENIDO L. LUMBERA, Chairperson of Concerned Artists of the Philippines, ELMER C. LABOG, Chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno, CHRISTINA E. PALABAY, Secretary General of Karapatan, FERDINAND R. GAITE, Chairperson of COURAGE, JOEL B. MAGLUNSOD, Vice Presidenl of Anakpawis Party–List, LANA R. LINABAN, Secretary General, Gabriela Women’s Party, ADOLFO ARES P. GUTIERREZ and .JULHJS GARCIA-MATIBAG, Petitioners, versus HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO Ill, President of the Republic of the Pbilippines, HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary, SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, represented by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., HON. LEILAA DE LIMA, Secretary of .Justice, LOUIS NAPOLEON C. CASAMBRE, Executive Director of the Information and Communications Technology Office, NONNATUS CAESAR R. ROJAS, Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, D/GEN. NICANOR A. BARTOLOME, Chief of the Philippine National Police, and HON. MANUEL A. ROXAS II, Secretary of Interior and Local Govemment, Respondents.

October 2, 2012

Cecilia R.V. Quisumbing, Human Rights Commissioner says that the ‘Cybercrime Law may put Philippines in more trouble with UN for curtailing press freedom. Its aim is to address harmful acts committed with the use of the worldwide web in the 21st century, but raises the risk of human rights violations and curtailment of freedom of speech and of the press by extending the criminalization of the act of libel by raising the penalties committed in cyberspace one year longer than what is imposed in the Revise Penal Code.
Any imperfections in the provisions of the law that conflict with other aspects of good governance and national/international laws, be amended. This should not be seen as personal attacks on anyone’s character or effectiveness. Instead of increasing the number and the amount of penalties in which a person could be imprisoned and criminally charged for libel, it would be in the best interests of the Filipinos for the government to decriminalize libel.
Aside from the libel provision, there are other sections which are inconsistent with basic human rights standards such as the lack of clear parameters regarding the extent of the initial investigation by responsible law enforcement authorities on online private correspondence as they search for possible libelous statements or pornographic material. The Department of Justice’ authority to block access to sites at an early stage is a questionable area which could violate rights to property/information and the freedom of speech and of the press.
The law’s enactment coincides with the Philippines’scrutiny by human rights experts of the UN Human Rights Committee on its civil and political rights situation on October 13.
While the Convention does allow sovereign governments to regulate freedom of expression, such regulation should be done in a way that does not curtail the freedom. The Committee further elaborates in General Comment No. 34 (2011), “States parties should consider the decriminalization of defamation and, in any case, the application of the criminal law should only be countenanced in the most serious of cases and imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty.”
Among the inconsistencies and ironies of the relatively quick passage of this legislation and the timing thereof are:
1. Its non-compliance with the United Nations International Committee on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by President Corazon C. Aquino after decades of non-ratification by President Ferdinand Marcos;
2. It signing by President Benigno S. Aquino III days before the country marked the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, a period characterized by repression of the freedom of expression/the press, and the right to political participation; and
3. The 1987 Constitution, whom the President and all the lawmakers have sworn to uphold has a number of provisions with which the Anti-Cybercrime Law is inconsistent with regarding the provision on the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press (Art. 3, Sec. 4), the vital role of communication and information in nation-building,” and the right of the individual to be secure in their persons, papers/effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
4. The vital role of the internet as an affordable, and empowering tool to monitor governance, transparency, and political participation by the Filipino people whom the President termed as his boss in his inaugural speech.

October 3, 2012

Today is the day Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Law of 2012 takes effect. Other petitions have been filed previously, and the eighth petition was filed with the Supreme Court, questioning the legality of the law by Atty. Melencio Sta. Maria. Sedfrey Candelaria, Amparita Sta. Maria, Ray Paolo Santiago, Gilbert Sembrano, Ryan Quan and the rest of the staff of the Ateneo Human Rights Center. They also asked the Supreme Court to stop the law’s implementation through a temporary restraining order. The law would endanger the freedom of speech, right to privacy and the freedom of the press and all other rights, they argued in their petition.
They petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down as unconstitutional the following provisions:
a. Sec. 4(4), which criminalizes libel, not only on the internet, but also on “any other similar means which may be devised in the future;”
b. Sec. 6, which 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;
c. Sec. 7, which 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;
d. Sec. 19, which 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;”
It is the right of every Filipino to have all laws enacted and implemented without violating the constitution, and to live under a system of valid laws which have been passed in the legislature at the cost of the taxpayers’ money. The implementation of Sections 4(4), 5, 6, 7 and 19 of the law will violate constitutional rights and the constitutional mandate.
The case was filed in the Supreme Court as G. R. No. 203440 entitled MELENCIO S. STA. MARIA, SEDFREY M. CANDElARIA, AMPARITA STA. MARIA, RAY PAOLO J. SANTIAGO, GILBERT V. SEMBRANO and RYAN JEREMIAH D. QUAN, all of the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Petitioners, versus HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. LEILA DE LIMA, in her capacity as Secretary of Justice, HON. MANUEL ROXAS, in his capacity as Secretary of Interior and Local Government, CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, DIRECTOR, THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and All of the Executive Department of Government, Respondents.
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A group, calling itself the People’s Liberation Front claimed to have hacked the web sites of The Official Gazette, House of Representatives, National Bureau of Investigation, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Philippine Senate. Four more government websites were hacked before dawn. These are the onlineOfficial Gazette published by the Office of the President of the Philippines,Congress,and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

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Twenty media organizations and more than 250 individuals, comprising mostly of journalists/media practitioners, filed with the Supreme Court (SC) the ninth petition against the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
They petitioned the SC to rule on the Cybercrime Prevention Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, a law which they say establishes a regime of ‘cyber authoritarianism.’ Aside from this, the law violates the basic human freedom and liberty, such as the rights and freedoms of netizens.
The petition filed is a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Injunction filed with the SC, calling for an immediate Restraining Order to annul and/or restrain the implementation of specific portions of the lawfor its unconstitutionality. The specific provisions being questioned are the following:
a. Section 4(c)(4) on libel, where the clear intent of section 4(c)(4) is to single out netizens in their chosen medium of expression. It is clearly a prior restraint that infringes on the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article III. Freedom of expression has long enjoyed the distinction of being a preferred right, citing the case of Ayer Productions v. Hon. Capulong and Juan Ponce Enrile (G.R. No. 82380, April 29, 1988) Libel as a cybercrime is committed through a computer system and subject to punishment.
b. Section 5(a) clearly restrains the freedom of expression by failing to specifically define the acts punished within the scope of the words ‘abets or aids.’ They also questioned the criminalization of the acts that fall under ‘abets or aids’ as vague. . Any person using a computer and the internet to forward, share, like, or re-tweet’ comments considered by authorities to be offensive, would constitute an act of ‘abetting or aiding’ the content-related offense of cyber libel under section 4(c)(4),” they stated.
c. Section 5(a) on Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime;
d. Section 6 on the inclusion of all felonies and crimes within coverage of the law
The wholesale importation of all felonies and crimes as cybercrimes in section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act is unjustified, according to the ninth petition. There is no rational basis for concluding that the ‘use information technology use in relation to all felonies and crimes would constitute a circumstance as to convert an existing felony into a separate offense altogether. The basis for section 6, especially when read in relation to section 2, rendering it an act of prior restraint, which clearly violates the freedom of expression has no basis.
The power to restrict or block access to computer data without judicial determination, based on prima-facie evidence, that such data is in violation of the Cybercrime Law, is given to the justice secretary. Since the law does not provide any standard for the exercise of this power, any directive may be unlimited in scope, infringe on the basic right of free expression.
e. Section 7 on the liability under Other Laws;
f. Section 12 on the Real-Time Collection of Traffic Data;
g. Section 14 on the Disclosure of Computer Data;
h. Section 15 on the Search, Seizure and Examination of Computer Data;
i. Section19 on the Restriction or Blocking of Access to Computer Data;
j. Section 20 on Non-Compliance
Provisions of Sections 12, 14, 15, 19, and 20 unlawfully delegates to law enforcers such as the police force, the authority to issue orders within the limitation of judicial powers, where the crime of non-compliance is penalized;
k. Sections 24 relative to Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center; and
l. Section 26(a) relative to Powers and Functions,
Sections 24, and 26(a) give the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center the power to formulate a national cybersecurity plan, which should fall within the jurisdiction of Congress and not an administrative agency.
They hope that the SC will issue an Immediate Restraining Order ordering the Departmeht of Budget and Management secretary to withhold the release of the P50-million budget intended for the law’s implementation, until the High Court rules otherwise.
The petitioners were represented by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) of attorneys Jose Manuel I. Diokno, Pablito V. Sanidad, Ricardo A. Sunga III, and Theodore O. Te. The case is filed under G. R. No. 203453, entitled: NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE
PHILIPPINES, PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE, CENTER FOR MEDIA
FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY, ROWENA CARRANZA PAI{AAN,
MELINDA QUINTOS-DE JESUS, JOSEPH ALWYN ALBURO, ARIEL
SEBELLINO, Petitioners, versus The EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, SECRETARY
OF JUSTICE, SECRETARY 0F INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT,
SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, DIRECTOR GENERAL
OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, CYBERCRIME INVESTIGATION AND COORDINATING
CENTER, and all Agencies and Instrumentalities of the Government and All Persons Acting under Their Instructions, Orders, Direction in Relation to the Implementation of Republic Act No. 10175, Respondents.
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Paul Cornelius Castillo and Ryan Andres, petitioners file the tenth petition against the Cybercrime Prevention Act in the Supreme Court. The case is filed under G. R. No. 203454, with the following title: Paul Cornelius T. Castillo and Ryan D. Andres, Petitioners, versus the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, Respondent.
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Justice Secretary Leila de Lima orders the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to track down and arrest persons or groups of persons responsible for hacking the websites of several government agencies, as online protests against the law continues. The hacked websites of these government agencies were rendered inaccessible for a few hours.
Hacking of the various government agencies’ websites is in protest against the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. De Lima ordered the arrest, prosecution, and punishment of these hackers for illegal access of computer systems as defined under Section 4 (a) of RA 10175, and Section 8 of the same law. The guilty persons arrested will face imprisonment of six to 12 years or a fine of P200,000 or both at the discretion of the court.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has mobilized at least 100 prosecutors to handle the cases that might be filed in relation to the implementation of the new law against the Anti-Cybercrime law. It will not abuse its authority in enforcing the new law.
Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy’s office will be in charge of enhancing the technical capabilities of the the National Bureau of Investigation’s Computer Crimes Unit that will deal with the above cases. All the complaints against the law will have to be addressed by the government in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that would be issued by the DOJ.
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Two groups namely Anonymous Philippines and Private X admitted hacking of government websites.

October 4, 2012

A group of bloggers on Thursday filed with the Supreme Court the eleventh petition questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Law of 2012.
The 18 petitioners included Anthony Ian “Tonyo” Cruz, Marcelo Landicho (professionalheckler.wordpress.com), Benjamin Noel Espina, Marck Ronald Rimorin, Julius Rocas, Oliver Richard Robillo, Aaron Erick Lozada (pinoygossipboy.ph), Gerard Adrian Magnaye, Ruben Lucera Jr of the Cebu Bloggers Society Inc, and Pedro Rahon of the Pinoy Expat/OFW Blog Awards Inc.
In its petition for certiorari and prohibition, the bloggers said the Cybercrime Law violated several of their “inalienable civil rights under the Constitution… and indisputable entitlements under the Bill of Rights,” including other rights such as: the right to due process and equal protection of the law, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to privacy of communication and correspondence, the right to free speech and expression, and the right against double jeopardy.

Similar to earlier petitions filed by separate groups, the bloggers also questioned the constitutionality of key provisions of the law:
Such as Sec. 4(c)(4) on libel, Sec. 5(a) on aiding or abetting in the commission of cybercrime, Sec. 6 on the inclusion of all felonies and crimes within coverage of the law, Sec. 7 on the liability under other laws, Sec. 12 on the real-time collection of traffic data, and Sec. 19 which restricts or Blocks access to computer data).
The petitioners called on the high court to step in and rectify grave and serious injustices and violations of the Constitution.

The case is filed in the Supreme Court under G. R. No. 203469, with ANTHONY IAN M. CRUZ, MARCELO R. LANDICHO, BENJAMIN NOEL A. ESPINA, MARK RONALD C. RIMORIN, JULIUS D. ROCAS, OLIVER, RICHARD V. ROBILLO, AARON ERICK A. LOZADA, GERARD ADRIAN P. MAGNAYE, JOSE REGINALD A. RAMOS, MA. ROSARIO T. JUAN, BRENDALYN P. RAMIREZ, MAUREEN A. HERMITANIO, KRISTINE JOY S. REMENTILLA, MARICEL O. GRAY, JULIUS IVAN F. CABIGON, BENRALPH S. YU, Cebu Bloggers Society, Inc. President Ruben B. Licera, Jr., and Pinoy Expat/OFW
Blog Awards, Inc. Coordinator PEDRO E. RAHOM, as petitioners, versus
HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, in his capacity as President of the Republic of the Philippines, SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile, in his capacity as Senate President, HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, represented by Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr., in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives, HON. PAQUITO N.
OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. LEILA M.
DE LIMA, in her capacity as Secretary of Justice, HON. LOUIS NAPOLEON
C. CASAMBRE, in his capacity as Executive Director, National Bureau of
Investigation and P/DGEN. NICANOR A.BARTOLOME, in his capacity as
Chief, Philippine National Police, as respondents.

–O–
One of the Philippine’s leading columnists Bobit S. Avila has termed the enactment and effectivity of the Anti-Cybercrime Prevention Law as being under cyber-martial law. It is ironical that this country which just celebrated martial law’s imposition after 40 years, is facing another looming dark cloud over the freedom of expression. Lest people forget that during the martial law years, the mainstream media, literally owned by Marcos cronies, gave rise to the mosquito press which the Marcos dictatorship dared not touch. We now have alternative media like blogs, social networking and Facebook that tell a different story from the major headlines of the day.
According to him, Malacañang should cease its defense of the Anti-Cyber crime law because it is not only the journalists that are being challenged but the citizenry, majority of whom belong to the voting population composed of the youth. This will surely spark protests when they believe that the basic human right of free speech will be curtailed.
–O–
Street and online protests have been staged by Filipinos against the Anti-Cybercrime Prevention Law. Netizens have assembled and brought their cause to international attention and the situation has become explosive. An accused citizen cannot use good faith as a defense against said law. This gives the government unbridled power to jail offenders. A national and international backlash against said law have scared many politicians. The upcoming elections will give them an opportunity to listen to public protests against the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
–O–
Filipino Americans have also shown vigilance over the Anti-Cybercrime Prevention Law. In what they dub as Cybercrime E-Martial Law in the Philippines, the situation is similar to martial law’s enactment in the early 1970s by the country’s ruling elite who sought to disband street protests. These protests were by the people were met with censorship, police brutality, mass incarceration, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and other unmitigated human rights violations. E-Martial Law, in the digital age, is being met with worldwide protests in the internet and on the streets.

October 5, 2012

The Philippine Bar Association (PBA), the oldest voluntary lawyers group of the country filed with the Supreme Court the twelfth petition questioning the legality of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. in its 61-page petitioned the Supreme Court to strictly scrutinize the law. They found various provisions having serious constitutional issues, and decided to bring the matter to the Supreme Court for its resolution. In its petition, the group said that the same well-intentioned measures intended to suppress criminal behavior could hinder the legitimate expression that is protected under the Constitution. It also described the law as discriminating against netizens and online journalists. Its vague provisions will enable law enforcers to interpret and implement the law according to their own discretion.

The group feared that authority given to access and restrict certain computer data by the Department of Justice could be used for surveillance of information including members of the Supreme Court, once it determines a “due cause” to do so. The law’s immediate implementation and/or enforcement by the respondents of unconstitutional provisions of the Cybercrime Law would cause grave and irreparable injury to the Filipino people. Specific sections of the law were declared to be unconstitutional for violating the human right to free expression, due process, equal protection, privacy of communication/correspondence, and protection against double jeopardy, among others.
In the Supreme Court, the case was filed as G. R. No. 203501, with the Philippine Bar Association, Inc., as petitioner, versus HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, in his official capacity as President of the Republic of the Philippines, the HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA; JR., in his official capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. LEILA M. DE LIMA, in her official capacity as Secretary of Justice, LOUIS NAPOLEON C. CASAMBRE, in his official capacity as Executive Director, Information and Communications Technology Office, NONNATUS CAESAR R. ROJAS, in his official capacity as Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, and DIRECTOR GENERAL NICANOR A. BARTOLOME, in his official capacity as Chief of the Philippine National Police, as respondents.
–O–

October 6, 2012

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Vera Files websites are hacked in protest against the Cybercrime Prevention Law.

October 8, 2012

The thirteenth petition against the Cybercrime Law was filed in the Supreme Court by Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares. Colmenares petitioned the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, and for an immediate conduct of oral arguments on the issue, pending final judgment. The law should be declared unconstitutional because it infringes on the basic right to the freedom of speech. Aside from this, the free speech doctrine is not incorporated in the law, such as internet or e-speech. Even the controversial libel provision of the law has been inserted only during the bicameral conference committee. The said committee is not authorized to make insertions in the bill.

The case is filed under G.R. No. 203509, entitled: Bayan Muna Representative NERI J. COLMENARES, Petitioner, versus EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, .JR., Respondent.
–O–

The National Press Club (NPC) files the 14th petition against the Cybercrime Law. It asked the High Court to impose a temporary restraining order against the law’s implementation, declared the law unconstitutional as it violates the fundamental speech of freedom of expression, the press, the right to due process of law and equal protection of the law/right against jeopardy of the petitioners, internet users, bloggers and Filipinos. The case is filed as G.R. No. 203515, entitled NATIONAL PRESS CLUB OF THE PHILIPPINES INC., represented by Benny D. Antiporda, in his capacity as President and in his personal capacity, Petitioner, versus the OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND M.ANAGEMENT and All Other Government Instrumentalities Who Have Hands in the Passage and/or Implementation of Republic Act 10175, Respondents.
–O–
A group of made up of different organizations, netizens, and bloggers calling themselves the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) files the 15th petition against the Cybercrime Law. They sought for a preliminary injunction to maintain the prevailing status quo before the enactment of the controversial measure, which took effect since Oct. 3. It argued that the Cybercrime Prevention Act is an “undue abridgment” of the freedom of speech, expression and of the press.
It claims that its members have legal standing to sue due to the “chilling effect” that could impact online activities starting October 3, the day the law takes effect. This law subjects netizens to unwarranted electronic surveillance, 24/7 by the Philippine government.

The other basis for their petition were: the violation of the right to privacy, and of the right to equal protection and the congestion of the country’s courts and jail facilities. The case was filed as G.R. No. 203518, entitled PHILIPPINE INTERNET FREEDOM ALLIANCE, composed of DAKILA-PHILIPPINE COLLECTIVE FOR MODERN HEROISM, represented by Leni Velasco, PARTIDO LAKAS NG MASA, represented by Cesar S. Melencio, FRANCIS EUSTON R. ACERO, MARLON ANTHONY ROMASANTA TONSON, TEODORO A. CASINO, NOEMI LARDlZABAL- DADO, IMELDA MORALES, JAMES MATTHEW B. MIRAFLOR, JUAN G.M. RAGRAGIO, MARIA FATIMA. A. VILLENA, MEDARDO M. MANRIQUE, JR., LAUREN DADO, MARCO VITTORIA TOBIAS SUMAYAO, IRENE CHIA, ERASTUS NOEL T. DELIZO, CRISTINA SARAH E. OSORIO, ROMEO FACTOLERIN, NAOMI L. TUPAS, KENNETH KENG and ANA ALEXANDRA C. CASTRO, Petitioners, versus The EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, The SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, The Secretary of Interior and Local Government, The SECRETARY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY OFFICE, The DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, The CHIEF, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, The HEAD OF THE DOJ OFFICE OF CYBERCRIME, and The OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CYBERCRIME INVESTIGATION AND COORDINATING CENTER, Respondents.

October 9, 2012

The Supreme Court (SC) issues a stay order against the controversial cybercrime law amid protests over its alleged unconstitutional provisions.

In a 13-page temporary restraining order (TRO) dated Oct. 9, the justices unanimously stopped the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for 120 days.

October 10, 2012
Recently retired journalism professor Luis V. Teodoro calls the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 as the worst assault on free expression since Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law 40 years ago due to its potential to affect the 26 to 30 million Filipinos, including journalists, who access o upload information through personal blogs or news sites via the internet on a regular basis, and comment on public issues in chat rooms/social media.
October 18, 2012
Netizens and environmentalists and have rallied behind Esperlita “Perling” Garcia, an anti-mining advocate in Cagayan Province. According to Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, she was arrested on libel charges for allegedly posting an article on Facebook last April 2011, protesting the cancellation of her group’s anti-mining rally due to harassment by the Provincial Mayor of the locality. She was arrested eighteen months prior to the enactment of the law, despite a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court suspending the law’s implementation. This is the first case of an arrest resulting from an online libel complaint which is penalized with a maximum of 12 years imprisonment.
January 11, 2013
Youth organization leaders filed the 16th petition questioning certain provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, a few days before the oral arguments set by the Supreme Court (SC) for Tuesday next week, January 15. The petitioners questioned the penalties imposed on cybersex, which are supposedly vaguely defined.
The petition was filed by the University of the Philippines Student Council chairman Gabriel Paolo “Heart” Dino, 2012 Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines awardee JC Tejano, University of the East Student Council president Ephraim Ocampo, De La Salle University Student Council president Julie Ann Cabuhat and Ateneo professor Lisandro Claudio.
They stated the following questionable provisions of the law regarding the following:
a) that the law’s vague definition of cybersex, wherein its current provisions could cover private exchanges between consenting adults. They cited Section 4(c)(1) of the law on cybersex as an example, which impairs the right of privacy and free speech. This provision was deemed as ambiguous, adding a vague statute or act is a violation of the Constitution;
b) the use of the word “prostitution” in the law “clearly applies to both prostitution, as commonly understood, and to private and intimate acts between consenting individuals not otherwise punished by law; “
c) the terms “lascivious exhibition of sexual organ” and “sexual activity” is not precisely defined in the law;
d) the law exposes individuals to the danger of being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense such as e-libel and e-child pornography, and if Section 7 of the Act is upheld as constitutional, a person will be punished twice for committing a single set of acts simply because these acts constitute an offense both in RA 10175 and in another criminal statute.

The youth leaders sought to intervene in 15 consolidated petitions filed before the high court. In their petition-in-intervention for certiorari and prohibition, the petitioners asked the court to stop the implementation of the law for allegedly being unconstitutional. Some of the law’s provisions violate a person’s constitutional rights. They also petitioned the high scourt to extend the 120-day temporary restraining order it issued against the implementation of the law.
The petitioners, who described themselves as citizen journalists, online activists, Internet users, and members of the youth population, are as follows: Ephraim Ocampo, president of the University of the East Student Council; Julie Anne Cabuhat, national spokesperson of Akbayan; Gabriel Paolo Diño, chair of the University of the Philippines Student Council and Metro Manila chair of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines; and Lisandro Elias Claudio, a citizen journalist.
Named respondents were Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr., Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, Information and Communication Technology executive director Louis Napoleon Carambre, National Bureau of Investigation director Nonnatus Rojas, former Philippine National Police chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

January 15, 2013
The Supreme Court conducts its first oral argument on the controversial law. Legal counsels for the petitioners took turns in explaining how certain provisions in the law like those on electronic libel, cybersex, and harsher penalties for offenders, would be violative of a person’s right to free expression, due process, and against double jeopardy among others.

January 22, 2013
Continuation of the oral arguments against the Anti-Cybercrime Law failed to push through after Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, who serves as the government’s legal counsel in the case, and whose turn it was to defend the law, filed a last minute request for postponement. The Supreme Court granted the deferral of the proceedings because Jardeleza was needed by Aquino at the Palace this day.

January 24, 2013

The Philippine Supreme Court, in a full court session denied a 16th petition filed by a group of student council youth leaders against the Cybercrime Law. It requested official participation in the ongoing debates for and against the law which was enacted late last year.
The court denied the motion for leave of court to file a petition-in-intervention filed by Ephraim Ocampo, Julie Anne Cabuhat, Gabriel Paolo Diño and Lisandro Elias Claudio.
No explains were given as to the reason behind the dismissal. The high court decided to retain the number of petitions versus the Cybercrime Law to 15.

Related Links:
1. Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Law of 2012)

http://www.gov.ph/2012/09/12/republic-act-no-10175/

2. Newspaper Articles

a.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/44009/petitioner-vs-truth-commission-files-bid-to-stop-cybercrime-prevention-law

b.

http://pinoysnayper.wordpress.com/tag/cybercrime-prevention-act-of-2012/

c.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/275741/scitech/technology/anti-cybercrime-law-allows-totalitarian-online-censorship

d.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/275836/scitech/technology/sen-guingona-files-4th-petition-vs-cybercrime-prevention-law

e.

http://rp2.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/09/28/12/sc-gets-5th-plea-vs-cybercrime-act

f.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/13394-bloggers,-lawmakers,-professors-ask-sc-to-nullify-cybercrime-law

g.

www.rappler.com/nation/13411-partylist-groups,-national-artist-file-petition-against-cybercrime-law

h.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/282132/8th-petition-vs-anti-cybercrime-law-filed-at-sc

i.

http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2012/10/03/media-groups-journalists-file-9th-petition-vs-cybercrime-prevention-act/

j.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276861/scitech/technology/bloggers-file-tenth-petition-vs-cybercrime-law

k.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/277061/scitech/technology/oldest-lawyers-group-files-11th-petition-vs-cybercrime-law

l.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/277061/scitech/technology/oldest-lawyers-group-files-11th-petition-vs-cybercrime-law

m.

http://technology.inquirer.net/17596/bayan-files-petition-vs-anti-cybercrime-law

n.

http://technology.inquirer.net/18496/3-more-petitions-filed-in-sc-against-cyberlaw

o.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/285366/15th-petition-vs-cyber-law-filed-with-sc

p.

sc.judiciary.gov.ph/features/oral_arguments/cybercrime/index.php

q.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=857818&publicationSubCategoryId=63

r.

www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Beyond&title=Anti-Cybercrime-law-timeline:The-law-that-launched-a-thousand-memes-&id=59817

s.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/44009/petitioner-vs-truth-commission-files-bid-to-stop-cybercrime-prevention-law

t.

http://www.newsflash.org/2004/02/hl/hl112161.htm

u.

http://philippines.phrepublic.com/?q=aggregator

v.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/cyber-martial-law-in-the-philippines/

w.

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/375820/hunt-hackers-doj-orders

x.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/44546/cybercrime-law-may-put-philippines-in-more-trouble-with-un-for-curtailing-press-freedom

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