Should libel be removed from cybercrime law?
MANILA – The House of Representatives is drafting a bill seeking the removal of libel from among crimes punishable under the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The committee on information and communications technology formed a technical working
group that will merge four bills amending Republic Act 10175.
Libel has a “chilling effect” on the exercise of free expression online, according to Rep. Evelina Escudero ( Sorsogon, 1st District).
“It is submitted that any form of libel is a form of abridging
the freedom of speech, of expression, of press as stated in Section 4, Article III of the Constitution,” Escudero said.
“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,” she added.
In addition, the draft bill also mandates the Philippine National Police ( PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice to create
their respective cybercrime divisions.
Committee c hairman Rep. Victor Yap ( Tarlac, 3rd District) said this need stems from the PNP and NBI’s 2016- 2017 report that showed 3,951 complaints and offenses related to cybercrime.
“This is more than 50 percent higher than the number of complaints received in 2015, which totaled 2,567,” said Yap. “We can only expect this number to rise as people are becoming more and more dependent on the internet.”/