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SC extends cybercrime law TRO Indefinitely

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended its temporary restraining order on the Cybercrime Prevention Act, indefinitely barring the government from imposing the law whose legality is under question. The extension came just as the Court’s 120-day TRO was set to expire today. “The TRO in the cybercrime case has been extended until further orders from the Court,” the public information office said in a text message to journalists. Fifteen petitioners led by the National Press Club of the Philippines, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and some human rights and militant groups earlier asked the Court to extend the TRO to prevent the government from imposing the law while the justices were deciding the case. The petitioners asked the Court to nullify the law, which they said was a violation of free speech. In oral arguments last week, even the government’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, conceded that the section of the law that authorized the Justice Department to block or restrict access to Web sites without a court order was unconstitutional. Under questioning, he also admitted that allowing the state to collect and monitor real-time traffic data without a court order was “hardly constitutional.” In the same session, Jardeleza said that the mere act of clicking “Like,” “Share” or “Retweet” on libelous posts on Facebook and Twitter would be punishable under the controversial law. Petitioners also questioned the law’s provisions on libel that were based on the Revised Penal Code. The Kabataan partylist and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines welcomed the extension of the TRO but urged the public to remain vigilant because the state still might try to impose the law. In a separate case, the Supreme Court did not grant a TRO to petitioners who sought to stop the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law. “There’s no ruling on TRO yet. The new petitions have been consolidated with the earlier petitions,” the Court’s public information office said. Without the order, the RH law remains in effect. Earlier, former Akabayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros asked the court to dismiss the six petitions questioning the constitutionality of the RH law. Hontiveros and others questioned the legal standing of the six petitioners who asked the Court to issue a restarining order. She also argued that contrary to the fears used by ant-RH advocates, the law does not legalize abortion. The petitioners argued that the RH law “negates and frustrates the foundational ideals and aspirations of the sovereign Filipino people as enshrined in the Constitution,” which “recognizes the sanctity of family life” and which calls for the equal protection of the life of the mother and the unborn child. They said at least 11 provisions that allow couples to choose to suppress life violate this constitutional provision. With Gigi Munoz David  
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