'Black days' continue as SC fails to act on TRO pleas vs 'e-Martial Law'
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - Black days will continue among thousands of Filipino netizens as several groups protesting against the Cybercrime Prevention Act failed on Tuesday to have the Supreme Court stop the law's implementation, which will begin on Wednesday, October 3.
The high court did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Republic Act 10175, dubbed by critics as "e-Martial," which President Benigno Aquino signed last September 12, the month of the 40th anniversary of the September 21, 1972 imposition by former President Ferdinand Marcos of Martial Law.
The seven petitions against R.A. 10175 "are up for further study" by the high court, according to Maria Victoria Gleoresty Sp. Guerra, acting chief of the Supreme Court's Public Information Office.
Several protest-actions led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance, and social media groups dubbed "Black Tuesday" were staged in front of the Supreme Court premises on Padre Faura Street in Manila while the justices were in an en banc session.
The groups were primarily against a provision in the law that criminalizes libel in cyberspace.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Teodoro Casino Jr. said there was no question in the law's goal of addressing cybrecrime, which has now become rampant.
Casino, however, said the law's libel provisions that give the government surveillance power over the activities of a person using the Internet infringe on the netizen's privacy and freedom of expression.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. on Tuesday said that his group "was disppointed" with the high court's inaction on the petitions.
"The fight is not over though since no outright denial has been made," Reyes said in a statement. However, Reyes said that without a TRO from the high court, "the new law takes effect tomorrow."
"We call for continued vigilance and the aggressive exercise of our freedoms. Keep posting, keep blogging, stay active on the issueon and offline," he added.
Black protest, amendments
The "black protest" has continued in cyberspace. Facebook users changed their profiles into black. Social media users also posted on Facebook a status update containing a black horizontal bar followed by a text that read: “[status update blocked.] (by RA . 10175).”
The blacked-out status updates have already gone viral and are being posted today by every Facebook user who is against the law.
As protests were staged in front of the Supreme Court, several lawmakers on Tuesday began the initiative to amend the cybercrime law in Congress by proposing to take out someits provisions.
Filing House Bill 6613, Casino and Rep. Raymond Palatino of Kabataan partylist sought to repeal the law's controversial sections, which many critics say will impinge on the basic rights of Internet users.
“Nais naming tanggalan ng pangil ang batas na tumatama sa basic right to freedom of expression ng mga mamamayan,” Casino said at a newsconference.
The bill proposed to repeal the following:
Section 4(c)(4) of Chapter II (Punishable Acts)Libel. The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through acomputer system or any other similar means which may be devised in thefuture.
Section 5 of Chapter IIOther Offenses. The following acts shall also constitute an offense:(a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any personwho willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offensesenumerated in this Act shall be held liable.(b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime. — Any person whowillfully attempts to commit any of the offenses enumerated in thisAct shall be held liable.
Section 6 of Chapter IIAll crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, asamended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the useof information and communications technologies shall be covered by therelevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to beimposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by theRevised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.
Section 7 of Chapter IILiability under Other Laws. A prosecution under this Act shall bewithout prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision ofthe Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.
Chapter IV - Covering Enforcement and Implementation.