SC stops cybercrime law, issues TRO

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 9, stopped the implementation of the controversial cybercrime law, insiders said.

In a unanimous verdict, the High Tribunal issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the same insiders added.

The Court also asked the respondent government officials as well as the Solicitor General to respond in 10 days. The respondents include Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, among others.

The TRO will last 120 days. Thus the oral arguments on the case will be held on Jan 15, 2013.

The verdict comes on the same day that the Department of Justice began its consultations with various sectors to clarify the details and meaning of the law.

A total of 15 petitions were filed with the High Court questioning the constitutionality of the law, which, among others, criminalizes libel, increases penalties of crimes under the Revised Penal Code to one degree, and allows government agencies to collect traffic data.

Lawyers and media organizations have slammed the law for its ambiguities and the power it extends to the Department of Justice, which can shut down any web site based on prima facie evidence of libelous content.

No less than a senator, Sen Teofisto Guingona III, is a petitioner before the Supreme Court. Guingona was the only senator who did not sign the bill, which was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on September 12 and took effect on October 3.

Anonymous Philippines also took responsibility for shutting down government websites last week, as a form of protest. - Rappler.com