In a statement, the group Democracy.Net.PH said it is “regrettable” that Aquino chose to ignore the flaws within Republic Act No. 10372 as pointed out by legal experts, including University of the Philippines College of Law professor Atty. JJ Disini.
“It is even more regrettable that the President approved the law without any public indication that the arguments against the bill had been duly considered,” the group added.
The group said that it will come as no surprise when the law is tested before the courts the way the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act was brought within the halls of the Supreme Court, a sentiment which lawyer Disini echoed in a phone interview with InterAksyon.com.
“We’re exploring all possibilities (of contesting the law before the SC) at this point,” Disini said. “It’s under consideration, and the issues I raised were constitutional. But I don’t want to take filing a case before the SC very lightly, so we’re studying it closely.”
Disini is one of the legal experts who personally sent a memorandum to Malacañang due to the public outcry following the exposure of the law’s problematic provisions as laid down by blogger-journalist Raissa Robles.
In his appeal for Aquino to veto the law, Disini said that a number of the amendments violate the due process clause, the right of citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the equal protection clause as guaranteed by the constitution.
“It’s unfortunate. I think the law has many problems, but I guess there’s already a lot of work that had gone into drafting the law so it’s understandable why the President would hesitate to veto it,” he said.
“My only hope is that as promised by [IP Office Director General] Ricardo Blancaflor, we will be invited during the crafting of the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR),” he added.
IRR won’t change anything
But even then, the UP College of Law professor said the IRR couldn’t exactly “correct” or make the controversial clauses of the amendments any better for users of copyrighted materials, which is why he was recommending that Aquino veto the law.
“You can’t write something on the IRR that is contrary to the law itself. Many of the things in there cannot be solved by the IRR,” he explained. Disini stressed the precarious situation that IP users and IP owners have with regard to the law, where the latter could easily attack any unfavorable provisions in the IRR since the statute is generally “favorable to them.”
“That will be the question now. Just how persuasive will the IRR and the IP Office be?” he asked.
But for members of Democracy.Net.PH, the only recourse now is to repeal the law as it is “biased against stakeholders in a way the Constitution is not.”
The group, which is also responsible for “crowdsourcing” the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, added: “[We] gladly [take] on this challenge and we look forward to working with fellow stakeholders and our duly elected representatives in government … to work for a balanced protection of intellectual property rights.”
The amendments to the IP Code were reportedly signed by the President on February 28.
The amended IP Code will give IPOPHL law enforcement powers. Prior to the amendment, only enforcement agencies belonging to the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) — the Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Optical Media Board, and Philippine National Police — can catch counterfeiters.
Police powers for IPOPHL will boost the government’s anti-piracy efforts, the agency had said.
RA 10372 will take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.