BAD TIMING for a bad law?

As the world marked International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, the government of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III asked the Supreme Court to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued in October against Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The government insisted that the law does not regulate or punish free speech, contrary to the claims of Netizens and media groups that have filed 15 various petitions against the law.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has submitted a 148-page comment to the Supreme Court asking the high tribunal to junk the petitions.

Media and civil society organizations had succeeded in getting a TRO against the Cybercrime law last October, citing that the law curtailed free speech and increased the penalties and jail terms for the crime of libel.

In addition, lawyers’ groups have expressed concerns that the law will allow government greater latitude in gathering data on internet use.

In a report published by GMANewsTV, the online news portal of television network GMA, the OSG is asking the Supreme Court to allow the law to be implemented immediately.

The OSG has argued, however, that the petitioners have not presented any evidence to support their opposition to the law; instead, the OSG said the oppositors to the law have only made legal arguments against the measure.

The OSG also said that libel has already been defined as a criminal act by the Revised Penal Code, and as such is “unprotected speech” that cannot be shielded by the freedom of the press.

GMANewsTV said the OSG questioned the inclusion of President Aquino as a respondent in at least five of the 15 petitions, citing that the President enjoys immunity from suit during his tenure in office.


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