House bills seek to remove libel in Cybercrime Law
Lawmakers are pushing for amendments to the Cybercrime law, particularly with the removal of libel as grounds for conviction in separate house bills filed in the lower house.
A technical working group (TWG) of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology chaired by Rep. Victor Yap (3rd District, Tarlac) is now in the process of drafting the bill consolidating House Bills 2096, 6881, 3295 and 6342 authored by Representatives Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT Teachers), Yap, Evelina Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon) and Rodel Batocabe (Party-list, AKO Bicol), respectively, which all aim to repeal of Section Sec. 4(c)4 and amendment of Sections 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 28 of RA 10175 in their respective bills.
Solons have expressed apprehension on including the said clause in the existing law, saying that this demerits the freedom of expression online. “It is submitted that any form of libel is a form of abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of the press (Section 4, Article III of the Constitution). Nonetheless, the bill does not negate civil liability in case the elements of libel subsist, which is but in consonance with the provisions of the Civil Code on Human Relations, specifically Articles 19 to 21 thereof,” said Escudero.
Online Libel cases have reached an all-time high in the ?2016-2017 Cybercrime Report, Yap said the NBI Cybercrime Division and the PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group, with a total of 3,951 complaints and cyber-related offenses just in 2016 alone. “This is more than 50 percent higher than the number of complaints received in 2015 which totaled 2,567. We can only expect this number to rise as people are becoming more and more dependent on the internet,” said Yap.
Source: Congress PH